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Revised timeline for ‘under care’ review
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By Josh Loeb

The RCVS has outlined a fresh timeline and methodology for its wide-ranging review of guidance around ‘under care’ and 24/7 emergency cover.

According to the timeline originally approved by RCVS council in June 2019, the review had been due to start in October 2019. However, following a delay, the start of the process has now been pushed back to next month – meaning it will be at least six months late.

The decision was made at an RCVS council meeting earlier this month.

Originally the process had been set to commence with a general call for evidence, but it will now begin instead with focus group discussions. The main areas under consideration in the review include the provision of 24-hour emergency cover and the interpretation and application of an animal being under the care of a veterinary surgeon.

It was apparent that the original methodology, and the timetable set for it, was not going to be suitable to the task

Melissa Donald, chair of the RCVS standards committee, said: ‘Regretfully, as the scope and complexity of the review became clearer following council’s approval of the project, it was also apparent that the original methodology, and the timetable set for it, was not going to be suitable to the task.

‘Therefore, over the past few months, the standards committee and college staff have been working hard with the external research agency to revise the methodology, and we have now reached the stage where we are confident we have got it right and can now proceed with the review.

‘While we regret the delay, as this review relates to fundamental principles about the provision of veterinary care, it is vital we get it right and that the process is as comprehensive as possible. It is better that it is right than rushed.’

Under the new methodology the review has been split into the following stages:

• An evidence-gathering stage comprising focus group discussions starting next month and taking place across the UK (subject to the latest UK government advice on Covid-19).

• An online survey for the veterinary professions will be launched in the summer and will be live for six weeks. Informed by an analysis of the views arising from the focus groups, this survey will invite views and feedback from the professions.

Any proposed changes to the Code of Professional Conduct and its supporting guidance on the concept of ‘under care’ and 24/7 emergency cover arising from the survey will be the subject of public consultation.

Donald added: ‘Invitations to our regional focus group discussions, which will be selected randomly from among the professions by our research agency, will be going out soon and I would urge anyone who receives an invitation to come along and share their views and ideas.’

More information on the evidence-gathering stage of the new process will be published in due course.

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