Veterinary professionals have been working throughout the lockdown, securing the food supply chain and providing essential care for companion animals. The professions have taken a pragmatic approach to practising strict social distancing and good biosecurity, including working remotely, so are well placed to take the next steps.
In the short term, the Prime Minister’s announcement does not suggest the need for any immediate changes to the existing guidance from the RCVS and BVA on how to manage cases and see animals safely. This guidance asks members of the veterinary team to undertake a risk assessment for every case. However, as restrictions on people leaving their homes are eased over the coming weeks
and months, we will continue to support the professions in transitioning to the “new normal”.
New government guidance for employers in different workplaces – published on 11 May – will provide a useful framework to help veterinary teams work safely in all settings. The diversity of veterinary workplaces means that many of these guides will be relevant – from working outdoors on farms and yards to working in practices that are similar to shop spaces and working in people’s homes.
Over the coming days, BVA will be developing further advice to help vets interpret the guidance for their own workplaces. It’s clear that the safe and efficient use of PPE will continue to be hugely important for the veterinary team and RCVS Knowledge will be updating its guidance, in light of the new advice from the government on face coverings.
The four nations of the UK are likely to take steps at different times. Many vets work on the borders with clients on both sides and will need to be aware of the different approaches in different countries.
The overarching message remains that in delivering animal health and welfare and public health outcomes, veterinary professionals must continue to make clinical and professional judgements that will protect public safety and that of their teams and themselves. Veterinary practices are still not operating business as usual and it is essential that clients respect their vet’s decision.