In response to a number of queries about locum veterinary nurse students, the RCVS is warning vets that they should only delegate Schedule 3 work to veterinary nurse students during training.
Vets should delegate Schedule 3 work to veterinary nurse students only during students’ training, advises the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), following a series of queries from employers about such students locuming.
Veterinary surgeons have dispensations under Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act to delegate to student veterinary nurses in the course of their training, so that students can learn how to give medical treatments to animals.
Crucially, these dispensations apply only when the student is working as a student in their approved training practice or on a placement organised by their university, and is under the supervision of qualified staff.
These dispensations do not apply to any extra-curricula activity so, if working as locums, they are legally classified as unqualified lay staff.
The RCVS is concerned that locum agencies do not always appear to know this and are placing locums in their capacity as students, or even “senior students”. This has the potential to mislead employers and the students concerned, and result in illegal practice.
Liz Branscombe, chairman of the RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council, said: “We know that student VNs, especially those on university courses, often undertake locum work to supplement their earnings. However, beyond the training practice which employs them, or in a placement organised by their university, they can only carry out tasks that may be expected of an unqualified staff member, and cannot legally undertake Schedule 3 work.”
Practices may check the details of a student VN directly with the RCVS or with the student’s college. If you notice an agency promoting student VN locums, contact the RCVS so that it can provide guidance.