BVA has welcomed the RCVS announcement that the review of “under care” and 24/7 is due to resume, following the interruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. BVA has also welcomed plans for RCVS Council to review the temporary guidance that allows vets to prescribe POM-V products remotely without first having physically examined the animal, and called on the College to bring this temporary measure to an end.
In mid-September, BVA wrote to the RCVS expressing concern about the August extension to the temporary guidance. In the latest update from the RCVS, the temporary measure has now been extended to 31 October but the flowchart and guidance have been updated to add some additional steps before a POM-V product can be prescribed remotely.
While BVA supported the original decision in March as a pragmatic solution and direct response to government restrictions surrounding COVID-19, it is now questioning the ongoing need for such a relaxation in the rules.
In the letter to the RCVS, BVA also asked for a timeframe for the publication of the results of the RCVS survey of practices’ experiences of remote consulting and prescribing.
BVA’s own under care working group, chaired by Nigel Gibbens, has been developing BVA’s position to respond to the RCVS review.
Commenting, BVA President James Russell said:
“We understand that allowing remote prescription of POM-Vs was a necessary measure at the height of the lockdown, as practices struggled to assess patients in person. However, the veterinary professions have done a fantastic job in adapting to the restrictions and are now able to work safely and see patients.
“Whilst we recognise the RCVS has provided additional guidance for the remote prescribing of POM-V, we cannot currently see any reason why a new client would be unable to access in-person veterinary care in the first instance and we are asking RCVS Council to reconsider this measure when it meets in Oct. It makes sense to continue allowing vets to remotely prescribe for existing patients, for example if an owner is shielding, but we feel it is no longer appropriate to be remotely prescribing to animals that have never been physically examined by the vet.
“The question of whether we should be able to remotely prescribe POM-V products without first seeing an animal is an important and live debate, and we welcome the resumption of the College’s review. But the longer that temporary measures are in place, the greater the expectation from animal owners that they will always be in place, and the harder it will be to have the discussion about the best way forward.
“As a profession, we are rightly concerned about antimicrobial resistance and we pride ourselves on the responsible use of medicines. Continually extending the temporary measures without a full analysis would risk undermining our position.”