Overwhelming support for expanded role for veterinary nurses - Veterinary Practice
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Overwhelming support for expanded role for veterinary nurses

Veterinary nurses and veterinary surgeons overwhelmingly
support that veterinary nurses should be able to undertake
additional areas of work that are not currently permitted
under Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

The College conducted a consultation earlier this year
about Schedule 3, which allows veterinary surgeons
to delegate certain acts of minor surgery and medical
treatment to veterinary nurses, asking for the professions’
views on how they understand and interpret it in everyday
practice, how it could be clari ed and how it might be
amended to bolster the veterinary nursing profession.

Some 11,625 people responded to the consultation,
of whom 6,873 were veterinary nurses (around 35% of
the profession and including 1,665 student veterinary
nurses) and 4,752 veterinary surgeons (around 21% of the
profession) – the highest number that has ever responded
to an RCVS consultation.

The report on the consultation, published on 31st October
by the Institute for Employment Studies, found a very high
proportion of veterinary nurses (92%) and a clear majority
of veterinary surgeons (71%) agreed that veterinary nurses
should be able to undertake additional areas of work.

In terms of the professions’ understanding of Schedule
3 and how it applies in practice, both veterinary nurses
and veterinary surgeons indicated that confidence in their
understanding was not very high.

Veterinary nurses rated their personal understanding at
6.74 out of 10 and vets rated their understanding as 5.57
out of 10. Furthermore, when asked what prevented the full utilisation of veterinary nurses, the majority of vet and vet
nurse respondents highlighted a lack of understanding of
what tasks can be delegated under Schedule 3, with around
60% of veterinary surgeons also admitting that they are not
good at delegating.

While most veterinary nurses (61%) thought that the
RCVS gives sufficient support and advice about Schedule
3, only 50% of vets agreed with this statement. In
corresponding comments, both veterinary nurses and vets said they would like more clarity, especially around ‘grey
areas’ such as the meaning of the term ‘minor surgery’,
as well as further communication from the College about
Schedule 3 and for more training for veterinary nurses to
ensure they have the competence and the confidence to
carry out delegated procedures.

The results of the consultation will now be considered
by the RCVS Schedule 3 and Legislation Working Parties,
which are reviewing the efficacy of the current Veterinary
Surgeons Act and whether changes need to be made to
bring the legislative framework for the profession up-to-date, including consideration of the part played by allied
professions like veterinary nurses in the veterinary team.

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