Following a five-year review of the Practice Standards Scheme, the new standards will take effect from April 1, and be formally launched at BSAVA Congress in Birmingham (April 8-11).

Following a five-year review of the Practice Standards Scheme, the new standards will take effect from April 1, and be formally launched at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress in Birmingham (April 8-11).
Practice Standards Group chairman Jill NuteApproximately 50 per cent of practice premises are now signed up to the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme, which exists to raise standards for the benefit of the public, as well as employees.
The review was undertaken by the Practice Standards Group (PSG), which includes representatives from all of the key veterinary and veterinary nursing organisations. Its objective was to ensure that standards remain relevant and achievable, while representing better practice. The group took on board improvements in practice over the last five years, and feedback from inspectors and practices.
PSG chairman Jill Nute said: “It was important that the group took account of what the public might reasonably expect of a well-equipped, professional practice. We have made some adjustments to the original standards, placing greater emphasis on clinical outcomes and training.
“To ensure the scheme goes beyond a ‘box-ticking exercise’, the emphasis for inspectors has moved towards assessing how standards are applied. For example, not just noting whether a protocol exists for the servicing of anaesthetic equipment, but asking staff involved how this is carried out and what checks are made on a daily basis to ensure the equipment is satisfactory.”
Main changes to the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme

  • The numbered tiers have been removed as they were shown to be confusing, but the descriptive categories (Core, GP, Hospital) and related differentiations (equine, small animal, farm animal, emergency services clinic) will remain in place. Further, in an effort to encourage more farm animal practices into the scheme at GP level, the term “where applicable” has been added to certain GP standards, so that those without small animal or equine facilities can comply.
  • A number of new standards have been introduced, including the requirement for annual appraisal systems for all clinical staff. In other cases, as expectations of better practice increase, standards that were previously for hospitals must now be met by general practices, while some of those for GPs now apply across the board.
  • The Practice Standards Scheme manual (available to download in PDF format) now incorporates guidance alongside the standards rather than in a separate document. This new format aims to clarify the derivation of each standard, so that legislative requirements are distinguished from those required under the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct and those indicated by better practice.

Although the changes are imminent, the RCVS has assured that practices already on the scheme will be given plenty of time to comply.

For further information visit stand 911 at BSAVA Congress or attend Hall 6 at 3.30pm on April 10 for a presentation on the changes.

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