Ahead of new environmental sustainability practice standards scheme (PSS) requirements being brought in on 1 June this year, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has published guidance to help practices understand more about these changes and how best to meet them.
The new and amended core standards and general practice level requirements for environmental sustainability in PSS was approved by RCVS Council in June 2022.
This follows the work of the Environment and Sustainability Working Party, which was set up in response to the wide-spread interest from across the professions to learn more about what the sector can do to address the climate crisis and make day-to-day practice life more sustainable.
The resource that the College has published to help practices understand their responsibilities can be found online.
RCVS junior vice-president Dr Sue Paterson, FRCVS, chaired the Environment and Sustainability Working Party and represents the College on the UK Health Alliance on climate change.
She said: “As a profession concerned with animal health and welfare, I know that many practices are already doing outstanding work to mitigate their environmental impact.
“These new environmental sustainability standards in the PSS will add a framework to the good practice we already see in the profession and ensure that all members of the professions consider their responsibilities to the wider environment and ecosystems around them.
“The guidance we have published provides clear, ‘how-to’ information to explain the standards.
“It will be very useful to practices which are going to be assessed as part of the PSS, but it is relevant and can be used by all practices, whether they are in the PSS or not.”
The new PSS contains some changes and a new module both at “Core Standards” and “General Practice” level.
Under the Code of Professional Conduct all veterinary practices, including those not accredited under the PSS, need to meet at least the core standards, which, with the changes, means all practices premises must have a written sustainability policy.
In addition to the new standards in the sustainability module there are also two additions to the core requirements in the medicines module, which have a sustainability emphasis.
These cover the responsible and accountable use of both endo- and ectoparasiticides.
At general practice level, there are eight new requirements (and two amendments to existing requirements) which have to be met by all RCVS-accredited practices at GP-level and above.
These requirements in the environmental sustainability practice standards scheme include having a dedicated sustainability champion and/or team, advising clients to return unused medicines for safe and sustainable disposal, and employing techniques to reduce the usage of anaesthetic gas.