RCVS writes to MPs asking for private members bill to push vet nurse regulation.

The RCVS has written to the MPs drawn in yesterday’s (May 16) private members’ bill ballot urging them to introduce legislation to protect the title veterinary nurse.

Nick StaceIn the letter, the college has also called for the introduction of an effective regulatory system to ensure VNs found guilty of serious professional misconduct are prevented from carrying out medical treatment to, or surgery on, animals.

Currently the title “veterinary nurse” is not protected, which means anyone, regardless of training or qualifications, can legally refer to themselves as a veterinary nurse.

Veterinary nurses (VNs) are also not subject to statutory regulation, but the RCVS uses powers under its royal charter to award certificates to VNs who have undergone approved training.

Qualified VNs – whose names appear in a list of certificate-holders published by the RCVS – are allowed to provide medical treatment to, or carry out minor surgery on, animals under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (VSA).

In 2007, the RCVS introduced a non-statutory register of VNs. Registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) commit to follow a code of professional conduct, keep their skills and knowledge up to date and submit to a disciplinary system.

RVNs found guilty of serious professional misconduct can be suspended or removed from the register at the direction of the RVN Disciplinary Committee (DC), but the RCVS has no power to remove them from the list. This means they can still legally give medical treatment or carry out minor surgery and perform other nursing duties specified under the VSA.

The RCVS has been working for some time to develop a framework for the regulation of veterinary nurses and has sent the ballot MPs a pre-prepared bill, drafted by leading counsel.

RCVS chief executive Nick Stace said: “I urge MPs selected in the ballot to take forward legislation for the statutory regulation of veterinary nurses and the protection of the title veterinary nurse. The nation’s animals and owners deserve better than the current situation.

“There is widespread support among the public and profession for such legislation, so the RCVS has had a bill drafted by leading counsel and is prepared to offer significant support to any MP willing to pick up this worthy cause.”

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