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Do codes of conduct matter?
  1. D. C. J. Main, BVetMed, PhD, CertVR, DWEL, DipECAWBM(AWSEL), MRCVS
  1. School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Langford House, Langford, Bristol BS40 5DU
  1. e-mail: d.c.j.main{at}

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THE article by Magalhães-Sant'Ana and others (2015), summarised on p 654 of this week's issue of Veterinary Record, is an important systematic review of veterinary codes of practice in Europe. While it is unlikely that many veterinary surgeons would consider codes of conduct as bed-time reading, their content can have a major influence on professional standards. Crucially, national codes are the basis for professional regulation. They provide a summary of veterinary professional behaviour that clients and society should expect. This, therefore, defines the scope for potential disciplinary action against veterinary surgeons. Codes are also included within the curriculum of veterinary schools. In the UK, veterinary schools are explicitly expected to ensure that new veterinary graduates are ‘fully conversant with and abide by the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct and its associated guidance’ (RCVS 2014). By reviewing the content of several European codes, the study provides a useful foundation for future veterinary policy.

The study highlights consistent themes within the codes, such as the duties to animals, clients, other professionals, competent authorities, and society, as well as more generic concepts such as professionalism and practice-related issues. The study …

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