As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the RCVS has announced various changes to the timetable for its review of ‘under care’, remote prescribing and 24/7 out-of-hours emergency cover.

As part of its review, the College had planned a series of focus groups of veterinary surgeons and nurses across the UK. However, these have had to be delayed both because of social distancing rules and because of the pressures that practice teams are currently working under. However, the agency tasked with hosting the focus groups is now exploring alternative options and it is hoped there will be a revised timetable soon. 

In the meantime, the College says it now plans to commission an additional independent agency to survey veterinary surgeons about their experience of remote prescribing during lockdown. 

In March, RCVS Council agreed to temporarily allow veterinary surgeons to prescribe prescription-only veterinary medicines remotely, without first having physically examined the animal, subject to a number of conditions and safeguards being in place.

This position is due for review by 30th June, and the College will be looking for feedback and data from veterinary surgeons about your experience of remote prescribing, in order to determine whether these arrangements can continue, with or without any extra safeguards.

Because remote prescribing is also one of the most important aspects of the planned under care review, feedback gathered now will help inform future discussions too.

RCVS President Niall Connell said: “We recognise the current conditions that veterinary practices are working under in no way represent normal practice life. Most practices will not have been set up to offer remote services and remote prescribing in a way that they might have chosen, given sufficient time and appropriate detailed guidance, if indeed there are any future guidance changes after the review.

"However, we feel it would be remiss of us not to seize the opportunity arising from this current crisis to ask about the experiences – good or bad – of those on the frontline of clinical veterinary practice in providing remote services to their clients.

"Whilst this will be no substitute for the formal evidence gathered by the research agency in due course, whatever data and feedback we can collate from veterinary practices at this unique time for our professions will, I’m sure, be extremely valuable to our ongoing discussions."

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