Just over a year on from the announcement of the UK’s first
national lockdown, the RCVS is
publishing new COVID recovery guidance for the veterinary professions in the UK, which will gradually replace its current
emergency guidance and aims to help veterinary practices begin a phased return
to near-normal operations, subject to a number of provisions.
The key recovery guidance aligns with the UK governments’
collective intention to open up parts of the indoor economy between now and
mid-April (22 March in Wales, 5 April in Scotland, and 12 April in England and
Northern Ireland), contingent upon a number of different provisions in each of
the four UK nations.
Professional judgement and biosecurity
Subject to each government’s plans remaining in place, the
College’s new guidance will enable practices across the UK to provide services
to clients in accordance with their professional judgement, the ongoing
requirement to maintain biosecurity and social distancing, and any other
relevant government guidelines and restrictions
The College’s COVID flowcharts, which have aimed to support
veterinary decision-making throughout the pandemic restrictions, will therefore
be removed, and practices will no longer be expected to provide only
Remote prescribe if no suitable alternative
However, recognising that for some time to come there could
be ongoing issues for certain members of both the practice team and the public
in attending and accessing practices, the College is retaining its temporary
guidance that permits remote prescribing of prescription-only veterinary
medicines, but only where there is no suitable alternative and still subject to
certain guidelines and requirements.
Speaking on the anniversary of the UK’s national lockdown,
RCVS President Mandisa Greene said: “None of us could have predicted quite what
an extraordinary and extraordinarily challenging 12 months this has been for
everyone. On behalf of the whole of RCVS Council, I would like to thank
sincerely once again all our veterinary and veterinary nursing colleagues, and
all those in practice teams around the UK, for their awe-inspiring commitment,
adaptability, resilience and sheer hard work in continuing to provide essential
veterinary services and look after the health and welfare of the nation’s
animals, in what have been the most difficult of times.
“Whilst I sincerely hope that we are at last beginning to
see light at the end of the tunnel, if there is one thing we have learnt, it is
that things can deteriorate rapidly if we don’t all continue to play our part
and follow all relevant guidelines.
“I therefore urge my colleagues to continue to use their
professional judgement and think very carefully about their gradual return to
more normal working patterns over the coming weeks and months, according to
their individual circumstances and the best interests of their teams, clients,
and the animals they care for.”
Meanwhile, at its recent
meeting, RCVS Council agreed with a proposal from the College’s COVID-19
Taskforce that the policy and guidance changes made in response to the pandemic
over the past 12 months would now be reviewed, and decisions made as to whether
to retain, amend or reverse them. Responsibility for these decisions would
generally now be returned to the relevant Committee or Working Group that
normally oversaw these areas, albeit potentially with advice or recommendations
from the Taskforce.
In line with these decisions and
the UK governments’ respective roadmaps, guidelines and deadlines the College
will continue to update the FAQs in its online COVID hub over the coming days
and weeks as part of its ongoing recovery guidance.
The College’s Covid recovery guidance is available at the website.