The RCVS Practice Standards Group (PSG) has published the results of its five-year review of the Practice Standards Scheme (PSS), with major changes surrounding the role of nurses, clinical governance and staff health and wellbeing.  

From now on, accredited General Practices will need to employ at least one Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN), whilst at Veterinary Hospitals all patients should now have a nursing plan in place, and an RVN will need to be on duty at all times. 

Other changes to the PSS requirements include:

  • General Practices will need to demonstrate the use of clinical audit, significant event audits and the development of guidelines and protocols around clinical governance. 
  • At all accreditation levels there are new requirements on the provision of infection control, including risk-based deep cleaning and the minimisation of cross-infection.
  • Animal owners will have to provide signed consent to demonstrate they understand the level of overnight care that will be provided for their animals as in-patients. Core Standards practices will need to have provisions to ensure the welfare of patients if left unattended overnight, whilst Veterinary Hospitals, now need protocols and checklists for handovers between day and night teams.
  • General Practices will now need to have a computerised Practice Management System, with records being accessible from and transferable between all branches. They will need to provide written discharge instructions and show regular recording of bodyweight and Body Condition Score.
  • There are several changes to the requirements for surgical facilities and protocols, including the need to avoid any outdoor clothing or footwear in the operating theatre for practices accredited at General Practice level. There are further requirements for the investigation of surgical site infections, including the use of bacteriology for General Practice and Veterinary Hospital accredited practices. Surgical lighting is required for Core Standards practices, and must be directable for General Practice level.

The full list of changes to the Practice Standards Scheme, together with the new module and award documents, can be found at:

David Ashcroft leads the team of PSS Assessors responsible for undertaking practice visits and assessing if they meet the required standards. He said: “The changes will come into force later in the year, at the same time as we are planning to return to in-person assessments, and so timings will be subject to government guidance on coronavirus and the easing of lockdown restrictions.

“As the PSS returns to in-person assessments, practices will have the usual three-month period between booking the assessment and the assessment taking place with which to familiarise themselves with the changes and the modules documents relevant to their accreditation.

“If anyone has any questions about the changes then please make sure to contact the Practice Standards Team on and we will be happy to help in any way we can.”

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