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RCVS LWP consultation: Where has it come from and why does it matter?

21 Jan 2021 | Daniella Dos Santos | LWP


BVA Senior Vice President Daniella Dos Santos introduces the RCVS consultation on the Legislation Working Party (LWP) Report recommendations, reveals why it's important and what BVA is doing in response.

RCVS LWP consultation: Where has it come from and why does it matter? Image

If during your whole career you only engage with veterinary politics and the regulation of the profession once, this should be it. The RCVS consultation on the Legislation Working Party (LWP) Report recommendations is looking for the professions views on what could be the single biggest shake up of the regulation that affects our everyday working lives. This isn’t about someone else over there, this is about you, me, every single one of us.

Why now?

The Veterinary Surgeons Act (VSA) 1966 is creaking at the seams. The world, and the profession, has moved on and developed significantly since it was established, and some argue it is no longer fit for purpose. The LWP was tasked with looking at the VSA and proposing reforms that would allow the RCVS to become an efficient regulator fit for the future. And it is right that as a self-regulating profession, we assess whether or not we have a modern regulator, fit for now and the future when it comes to setting educational standards, protecting animal welfare, and the public interest.

“Why Now?” This is a question often asked, but the reality is that this piece of work has been in the pipeline for many years. In 2008, EfraCom published a report into the VSA, and although much has been done since then, not everything has been addressed. The report and Defra’s response included agreement that there should be a wider range of sanctions in the disciplinary process, but also that there should be wider consensus across the profession for further reforms. The LWP was set up in 2017 to develop a report on which RCVS could consult. The report was presented to RCVS council in June 2020 and makes various recommendations, based around 5 principles:

  • Legislation should not be unduly burdensome or complicated. It should provide clarity to the public and enhance public confidence in the professions.
  • The disciplinary process should be ‘forward looking’, with public protection at its heart.
  • The vet-led team should fall under a single regulatory umbrella
  • Acts of veterinary surgery should, by default, be limited to veterinary surgeons, with flexibility in delegation to be future proof.
  • Delegation to paraprofessionals should be varied according to the paraprofessional in question but should not impact each other.

These principles underpin the 50 recommendations put forward in the report that are currently out for consultation. It is a huge piece of work, which included a careful review of the available evidence, but that does not mean everyone will agree with all the recommendations.

What is BVA doing?

Acknowledging the scale of the work involved to be able to put forward a comprehensive response to the consultation, BVA put together 5 working groups, each looking at a different section of the report. As BVA officer I sit across all the group to ensure cross-cutting issues are discussed, and the chairs of the groups are also in regular dialogue with each other. The five groups are looking at recommendations surrounding Embracing the Vet-Led Team, Enhancing the VN role, Assuring Practice Regulation, Fitness to Practise and Standard of Proof, and Modernising RCVS Registration. The membership of all groups, minutes of all the meetings and emerging themes are available to view on the BVA website, as we wanted to ensure transparency in our working. Across our workings there are key themes that keep resurfacing: Why is the proposal being put forward? Who will benefit? Is it simply regulation for regulations sake or is there a tangible outcome or improvement it aims to confer? How much will all these proposals cost and how will it be funded?

In the middle of a global pandemic, and as the profession is adjusting to the end of transition period, this consultation is of course, difficult for some to find the time to input into, as well as the fact that many of us will have an interest in one section whilst not in the other. There are certain aspects of the consultation that serve as a catalyst for significant debate, and others that seemingly stimulate little debate but are just as important to the future of our profession. For those of you who want to contribute but feel like you lack the time, I will be summarising in the next few blogs the work of each group so far, where recommendations are supported or not and the reasoning for it, as well as the gaps and unintended consequences we have identified.

This is the single most important consultation in our profession and I would encourage you to get in touch with your views. Please do read the blogs, listen to our webinar that we held early on, or read the summary of thinking from the meetings and let us know what you think on [email protected]. We want to make sure our response encompasses the views of our members, in a consultation that has the potential to impact the way we will all work in the future.


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