The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) new Royal Charter is due to come into effect early next year once it has been signed by Her Majesty the Queen and received the Great Seal of the Realm.
The Charter, which was approved at a meeting of the Privy Council on 5 November, sets out and clarifies the objects of the RCVS and modernises its regulatory functions.
Crucially, the Charter will recognise veterinary nursing as a profession, confirm the role of the College as the regulator of veterinary nurses and give registered veterinary nurses the formal status of associates of the College. The Charter will also underpin other activities of the College such as the Practice Standards Scheme.
One of the key changes is that those veterinary nurses who are currently on the List will become registered veterinary nurses. This means that they will be required to abide by the Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses, will be held accountable for their actions through the RCVS disciplinary process and will be expected to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date by undertaking at least 45 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) over a three-year period.
In addition, the Charter will give formal recognition for VN Council to set the standards for professional conduct and education for veterinary nurses.
Kathy Kissick RVN, the current chair of VN Council, explains: “A Charter which recognises veterinary nursing as a fully regulated profession is something that many veterinary nurses, as well as the British Veterinary Nursing Association, have been wanting for some time so I commend this development.
“This can only be a good thing for the profession, the industry as a whole and animal welfare because it makes sure that registered veterinary nurses are fully accountable for their professional conduct and are committed to lifelong learning and developing their knowledge and skills.
“Furthermore, the new Royal Charter is a significant step towards attaining formal, statutory protection of title, which would make it an offence for anyone who is not suitably qualified and registered to call themselves a veterinary nurse.”
From next autumn those former listed veterinary nurses who have become registered veterinary nurses will be expected to confirm that they are undertaking CPD and will also need to disclose any criminal convictions, cautions or adverse findings when they renew their registration.
A detailed set of frequently asked questions for listed veterinary nurses who will become registered veterinary nurses once the Charter is implemented can be found at www.rcvs.org.uk/rvn.
Although the date for signing and sealing the Charter has not yet been confirmed, once it comes into effect the College will be contacting all listed veterinary nurses by letter to outline the changes as well as putting an announcement on www.rcvs.org.uk.