One or two flaws in the new system - Veterinary Practice
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One or two flaws in the new system

GARETH CROSS has been struggling with some tedious form-filling – not least for the RCVS – but eventually finds some relief in his veterinary work.

THIS month has been a month of form filling. From where I am writing this, I can see my obligatory national census form. It is in that part of the kitchen where things you can’t throw away but don’t really want to tackle get stacked up.

It’s in there with car tax reminders, the cooker instruction manual and a file of stuff we can’t throw out but haven’t tackled yet concerning moving house. The census form is by far the most noticeable when viewed from the side.

Most of you reading this will have been grappling with another obligatory form-filling exercise: the new RCVS registration. This has caused some disquiet amongst vets as being an unnecessary exercise and an intrusive one.

I have noticed a few flaws in the system. One is that there is no direct confirmation that your efforts by post or on-line have been successful. As the penalty for not doing this could be removal from the register, the RCVS should confirm that you have been successful in your registration.

As a comparison: I have just taxed the car on-line and before I turned off the computer I checked the e-mail and there was a confirmation of my payment and successful taxation of the car.

A more minor flaw is that if you pay by direct debit, it appears that you still have to “pay” to confirm your details, but just enter a £0 amount. The other Catch 22 aspect is that part of the reason for all this is to confirm your current address and yet the forms were posted out to the addresses on the existing database.

It’s a tricky one for the RCVS and over the years will come right, but I hope they go easy on the first poor vet they haul up for not completing the forms.

Picture the scene at Belgravia house. The vet, Yossarian, is on the phone to the RCVS. RCVS staff: “So Mr Yossarian, why have you not completed your obligatory re-registration form to confirm your address?” Yossarian: “Well, you see, I never got it, it went to my old address.” RCVS staff: “But if you had completed the re-registration forms we would have your correct address.” Yossarian: “But you posted the forms for me to do that to the wrong address.” RCVS staff: “But if you had filled in the forms as required we wouldn’t be in this situation.” Yossarian: “I never received the forms to fill in. The RCVS News and the form to fill in all went to my old address…” and so on.

All ending in an hilarious law-suit and much farce.

More seriously, though, is the fact that many of you out there will have put your signature to the first falsified document in your veterinary career. And sent it straight back to the RCVS to boot. That bit where you confirm you have done all the CPD you should have.

How many people returning from career breaks, locums, mums and dads, very part-timers, old boys, the fed-up and about to retire, have not done enough CPD but signed the form to say they had? There will be a significant minority who have just confirmed they have done all those hours of CPD when they haven’t.

I do not think it is a bad thing to make people confirm that they have done the required CPD but the RCVS should have warned everyone three years ago. (I definitely have done enough CPD by the way, in case anyone from the RCVS reads this – which I know they do – as I did a two-year taught course and have the hole in my company bank account to prove it).

The issue of CPD provision and costs of it for part-timers and people taking time away from vetting needs to be considered. Not all CPD hours have to be filled by attending courses, but some of them do.

People may well lie…

The RCVS must be made aware, though, that if they put people in a position where they have only two options – to falsify an official document (one of the cardinal sins for an MRCVS) or be automatically removed from the register – then people may well lie. And once people have had to do it for one thing…

I am not in this position and nor are any vets I know personally, but there will be some who have had to do it on this occasion to stay in work. Most will have never falsified anything before. If they are forced to falsify a document to stay in practice, well it’s the thin end of the wedge. However, in defence of the RCVS, I have to say that they have very nicely worded that section to allow a fair bit of wriggle room.

The RCVS is not the worst for forms though. We have just spent an entire weekend collating documents for a mortgage application.

Our favourite moment was when we had to fill in the address of our current lender. We happen to be staying with the same building society. They had not provided enough boxes for their own address to be filled in on their own form!

On the subject of confirmation (as mentioned above with respect to the RCVS), the building society texted us at 10pm congratulating us on a successful application. The next day they texted us to tell us that our forms had just been received.

Our IFA investigated and told us they had received the forms but they couldn’t confirm the application had been successful. So much for confirmation for when you send off a form. It’s not just the RCVS which gets it wrong.

Website fine but bland…

If anyone hasn’t yet seen the Royal College’s new website, prepare to be … bowled under? Underwhelmed? It looks fine, but quite bland and the little Vshaped shieldy thing is, well, a little V-shaped shieldy thing. I don’t expect they will be paying for a replacement practice standards’ plaque for all our practices either.

“Look for the logo” Ted used to say to the public on the old RCVS website. But which one? I think some of my kid’s toys have a V-shaped shieldy sticker thing on them. I’ll stick that to the nice formal-looking plaque we forked out for last year.

It all sounds a bit down in the dumps in vet world, but one of the joys of our job is, despite the formfilling and the many other usual gripes and moans of our job, it still has the capacity to delight and amaze us.

This week I was summoned to work a bit early for a possible caesar on a cat. After some manipulation and the judicious use of oxytocin, we had, between the efforts of myself and the queen, delivered five healthy little siamese kittens.

They mewed and flopped round the basket. Blind and functioning on instinct alone they managed to find mum and latched onto the milk bar.

They were in complete and blissful ignorance of forms, mortgages, the RCVS’s latest dictum, etc. And for a few minutes then, so was I.

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