A new five-year Strategic Plan for the RCVS, that revolves around four key ambitions and sets a blueprint for how the College will work on behalf of all its stakeholders, was approved by RCVS Council at its January 2020 meeting.
The new 2020–2024 Strategic Plan has been in development since the end of 2018. To inform the development of this plan, over the last 12 months the RCVS undertook research amongst veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses (through the Surveys of the Professions), stakeholders and the public.
Members of the professions and stakeholder organisations felt that the direction of travel was a positive one, with improvements noted by stakeholders in clarity of mission and purpose, transparency, openness and collaboration, and in the nature and speed of the College’s communications, since the last such research, in 2013.
Members of the profession also rated the College highly on professionalism, international relationships, having processes that reflect best practice, and on how it lives up to its stated values. The new plan is a continuation of this positive course. The full stakeholder research can be found online and the Surveys of the Professions results will also be published shortly.
The final version of the strategic plan is based around four overarching ambitions. These are:
- Clarity: this ambition is based around the recognition that the RCVS works within a complex legislative and regulatory framework and so will continue to work to simplify, unpick and modernise what it does in order to remain relevant. In this ambition the RCVS commits to continue to review the legislative and regulatory landscape to ensure the College keeps pace with, and stays ahead of, what is happening in other sectors. Specific actions under this ambition include: reviewing whether the College can take a more proactive role around breaches of the Veterinary Surgeons Act involving unqualified individuals; ensuring that it is addressing matters important to its stakeholders and horizon-scanning for future issues; and working with overseas partners to ensure the UK remains relevant in the veterinary world post-EU exit.
- Compassion: under this ambition the RCVS recognises that, while its complaints process can lead to stress and anxiety for members of the professions, it can take a more compassionate approach to regulation by treating everyone as individuals, communicating promptly, explaining appropriately, and being fair. This compassionate approach will also look at how the College can support members of the veterinary team to work to the best of their abilities. Specific actions under this ambition include: reviewing the concerns process to ensure it is fair, forward-thinking and compassionate, and setting out a programme of quality improvement; continuing to support the professions through the Mind Matters Initiative; and continuing to foster a reflective learning culture so the professions can grow and develop in a supportive, no-blame environment.
- Courage: under this ambition the RCVS will continue to take a leadership role within the professions and consider how it can ensure the professional culture is healthy, sustainable, inclusive, innovative and respectful. Specific actions under this ambition include: celebrating the art as well as the science of veterinary medicine and ensuring that wider professional skills are supported; creating an innovation funding pot to enable the professions to help solve regulation and professional standards issues that matter to them; and continuing to develop the Fellowship into a learned society.
- Confidence: this ambition recognises that the RCVS can only deliver on its plans if it has the right systems, skills and capacity in terms of its staffing, finance, IT and communications. Underpinning all of this will be the College’s mission, vision and culture. Specific actions under this ambition include: collating and reviewing member and service-user feedback and using quality improvement methodology to benchmark and improve services; developing and implementing a technology strategy that puts digital first and focuses on simplification; and developing a corporate social responsibility strategy befitting an organisation that works in the public interest.
Commenting on the Strategic Plan and its ambitions, Lizzie Lockett, RCVS CEO, said: “This new plan builds on its two immediate predecessors – the 2014-16 plan which focused on getting the basics right and the 2017-19 plan, which took a broader scope and looked at the future of the professions – by looking at the future of the RCVS as an organisation working on behalf of all its stakeholders.
“This plan takes into account the future direction and needs of the professions, animal owners and the public as well as the wider issues of animal health and welfare and public health.
“It addresses what kind of regulator and Royal College we want to be, our place in the world, and how we can continue to remain relevant and ambitious. By the time it is completed, we hope that the RCVS will be recognised as a trusted, compassionate and proactive regulator, and a supportive and ambitious Royal College, that provides the underpinning for confident veterinary professionals of which the UK can be proud.
“I would like to thank all those from the professions and beyond who helped us develop the plan and, as members of self-regulated professions, I would ask veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses to join us in making this strategy and ambitions possible by continuing the dialogue with us.”
The draft 2020-2024 Strategic Plan can be found in the papers for the January 2020 RCVS Council meeting.
The final Strategic Plan, taking on board several small changes recommended by Council, as well as a summary of its aims, will shortly be published on RCVS’ website.