Questions and answers about the Scheme
What is the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons?
The RCVS has a twin function. It is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the UK, which means that it deals with issues of professional misconduct, maintains the register of veterinary surgeons eligible to practise in the UK and assures standards of veterinary undergraduate education. It also has a ‘Royal College’ role, which means that it is responsible for post-graduate educational and veterinary nursing qualifications, and acts as an impartial source of information on animal health and welfare issues.
What is an RCVS accredited practice?
In order to join the Practice Standards Scheme and become accredited, practices volunteer for rigorous inspection every four years. Those which pass the inspection will have met a range of standards. Minimum standards include 24-hour emergency cover, staff training, hygiene, certain types of equipment and cost estimation procedures. Accredited practices also undergo spot-checks.
Do practices have to join the Scheme?
No, the Scheme is currently voluntary but it is hoped that, under a new Veterinary Surgeons Act, it will become mandatory. It is the only accreditation scheme for veterinary practices in the UK.
What is the Veterinary Surgeons Act (VSA)?
The VSA is the legislation to which the RCVS works from a regulatory point of view. It was enacted in 1966 and a lot has changed in 40 years. It is ripe for review and the College is in the process of developing its recommendations for a new Act. However parliamentary time has not yet been allocated for review of this legislation.
Is this the first quality assurance Scheme for vet practices?
No, but this is the first time that the option of seeking accreditation has been open to a broad range of practice types. The Practice Standards Scheme replaces two previous schemes, run by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and the RCVS in conjunction with the British Veterinary Hospitals Association (BVHA). The Practice Standards Scheme encompasses practice types previously unable to seek accreditation, for example, farm animal and equine general practices.
How many practices are in the Scheme?
As of the end of January 2006, there were 1,769 premises falling under the ambit of the Scheme, approximately 50% of the UK total, and 824 practices – 36% of the UK total.
What are the benefits of using an accredited practice?
Using an RCVS accredited practice means assured standards, facilities and practice management, which means peace of mind for you and your animals.
What are the benefits of accreditation for veterinary practices?
Having good standard operating procedures and documentation in place, such as contracts and continuing professional development arrangements should make a practice a more attractive and less stressful place to work. It also clarifies the expectations of new staff and may help in the recruitment process. Accreditation can also enhance a practice’s reputation both within the profession and with the general public. It may be particularly persuasive when people are looking for a new vet in their area. Furthermore it provides official recognition of the high standards achieved by the practice.
How can I found out more?
Further information about the Scheme is available by visiting