Working Party formed to widen access to the veterinary professions - Veterinary Practice
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Working Party formed to widen access to the veterinary professions

The RCVS has set up a new Working party focusing on widening access to the veterinary professions for disabled people and encouraging an inclusive approach to training and hiring

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has set up a new “task and finish” Working Party that will focus on increasing access to the veterinary professions for disabled people.

The Working Party, which will report to the RCVS Advancement of the Professions Committee, has been formed following RCVS Council’s decision to adopt the recommendations of the RCVS Legislative Reform report. One of the recommendations was to “introduce provisions to allow limited licensure for veterinary surgeons in principle, including for those with a disability”. The aim of this recommendation is to widen access to the veterinary professions and encourage an inclusive approach to training and hiring veterinary nurses and veterinary surgeons.

The aim of this Working Party is to compare options for increasing inclusion, source evidence both from the UK and other countries, and to identify any potential unintended consequences of change. It is therefore important that the membership includes both those with lived experience and those involved in education.

Dr Niall Connell, chair of the RCVS Diversity and Inclusion Group, said: The formation of this Working Party is an important step for not only the legislation reform work being carried out by the RCVS, but also for the future of the veterinary professions and the future of those hoping to undertake a veterinary degree or veterinary nursing qualification, but who are at present unable to because of a disability.

“I hope the recommendations of the group will ensure that the professions can foster a supportive and inclusive culture using the best route possible.”

To guarantee that key stakeholders are engaged with discussions from the start, the RCVS will invite representatives from the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS), British Veterinary Association (BVA), British Veterinary Chronic Illness Support (BVCIS), the British Veterinary Nurses Association (BVNA) and Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) to join the Working Party.

Olivia Anderson-Nathan, vice-chair of BVCIS, said: “We are delighted that RCVS has committed to a fuller review on plans for any ‘limited’ licensure of disabled graduates. As representatives of the affected community, we have long campaigned to improve disabled access to the professions and we are excited to explore other approaches alongside key stakeholders and look forward to working with RCVS to make the veterinary profession genuinely accessible.”

Dr Sue Paterson, who will be chairing this Working Party said: “I am delighted to Chair our new task and finish Working Party. The formation of this new Working Party is a significant and very welcome step in helping to make the veterinary professions more accessible for people with a disability. Fellow members of the Working Party include a broad range of colleagues, students and veterinary bodies, to ensure we take into account as many perspectives as possible when we propose recommendations.

“We recognise that many organisations have already begun to explore what we could do to make the veterinary professions more accessible, and we are keen to work collaboratively with them to ensure we keep up the momentum on this vital work. The Working Party will endeavour to find a way that those wishing to undertake a veterinary degree or a veterinary nursing qualification in the UK are not faced with barriers due to disability.”

The terms of reference for this Working Party are:

  1. To produce a report on current best practice in the implementation of reasonable adjustment, with recommendations for the veterinary professions

  2. Reporting on whether limited licensure could, in principle, increase access to veterinary degrees and veterinary nursing qualifications for those with disabilities beyond that allowed by reasonable adjustment

  3. Making recommendations on related issues, such as appropriate nomenclature for any policies and practices

The Working Party is expected to complete its work during the course of 2022. Any recommendations made by the Working Party will be referred to RCVS Council for consideration.

Those who are interested in finding out more about this Working Party can contact Rosie Greaves, Policy and Public Affairs Officer, who will act as secretary.

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