The RCVS Practice Standards Group has updatedthe Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) and a draft of the new manual is now available for comment.

Jill Nute

The scheme is a voluntary accreditation programme that aims to promote and maintain high standards of facilities and care within UK veterinary practices. When it was launched in 2005, a commitment was made that the standards would not change for five years, unless new legislation (such as the Veterinary Medicines Regulations) required it. Following a detailed review of the standards, to ensure they continue to be relevant to current veterinary practice, proposals have been made by the group for new standards to be implemented during 2010.

Jill Nute, chairman of the Practice Standards Group (which comprises representatives from allof the key veterinary and veterinary nursing organisations), said: “It is unlikely that any already-accredited practices will be required to invest in additional facilities or equipment to meet the new standards. Instead, greater emphasis has been placed on clinical outcomes and training. For example, performance review has been introduced for all clinical staff, including the Professional Development Phase (PDP) for new graduates. We are keen to hear feedback on the proposed new standards.”

One recommendation is that the ‘tiers’ should be dropped. The categories will retain their descriptive names, for example, Small Animal General Practice or Equine Veterinary Hospital. According to the RCVS, feedback has suggested that clients, and the profession, found the tiers to be misleading.

Practice Standards manualThe layout of the manual has been revamped, to include guidance that was previously available online. Guidance for each relevant standard can now be seen at a glance. There is also an icon to indicate if documentary evidence will be required by the inspector. In addition, the new format clarifies 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.

Membership of the scheme continues to grow, with 126 applications to join in the first six months of this year (representing 264 premises), compared with 61 applications in the whole of last year. There are currently 2,351 practice premises under the ambit of the scheme – approximately 50 per cent.

The draft new manual is online at Hard copies are available from Practice Standards Scheme manager Eleanor Ferguson by emailing or calling 020 7202 0720.

The deadline for comments is August 31. Responses will be considered by the Practice Standards Group at its September meeting and thereafter by Council in November.

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