The operations director of one of the UK’s leading not-for-profit veterinary clinics has called for stronger control over clinical standards.
Steve Robson, of Animal Trust, also said the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) should be made compulsory immediately.
A former registered general nurse within the NHS and private health sector, Mr Robson believes the RCVS should be pursuing greater authority to enable it to conduct unannounced, ad hoc inspections at practices across the UK to ensure high standards are adhered to across the board.
“When I came to the world of animal health, I was a little surprised there appeared to be very little regulation of standards and quality,” Mr Robson explained.
“I understand the RCVS has the PSS awards, and they are an awesome starting point – but are voluntary.”
Standard of care
As a pet owner himself, Mr Robson wants to feel safe in the knowledge his pet will receive the same standard of care from any veterinary practice across the UK, but feels the PSS system does not allow for such peace of mind.
“When there isn’t somebody looking over your shoulder asking for evidence you’re providing a service in a particular way… you are very much tempted to take the course of least resistance, which may not be the highest quality care provision route,” he said.
“Professionally, we have to take responsibility and be accountable for our own actions and I think if the RCVS was to be a little tougher in its approach, it would be a wake-up call to the profession.”
Bigger role for RVNs
The profession would also benefit from RVNs taking on a bigger role within practice, Mr Robson said.
Allowing RVNs to see less complex cases while vets take on the more complex ones would reduce stress and alleviate some of the bottlenecks that can arise.
A similar model already exists in the NHS, he said.
Responding, the RCVS said the possibility of bolstering the VN role through a review of Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act (VSA) and of making the PSS compulsory was addressed within the Strategic Plan 2017-19.
It said while the issues were firmly on the agenda, it was not within the college’s power to change the law.
- Read the full story in the March 20 issue of Veterinary Times.