At its January meeting today, RCVS Council agreed a series of proposals for the future reform of the College's governance structure which will now go to consultation with the profession and the public before being integrated into the overall recommendations for legislative reform. 

Amongst the proposals agreed by Council was to move towards an independent appointment system for Council membership to replace the current election system.

In addition, Council voted:

  • for the composition of Council to be a matter for more flexible secondary legislation rather than it being fixed via primary legislation;
  • to an increase in the proportion of lay members, with a decision about whether Council should adopt parity of veterinary professionals and lay members to follow the consultation,
  • to reform its composition to remove the Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) appointees. Currently the VSC has three appointed Council members
  • to consult with the profession and public on two options for the future composition of a 24-person RCVS Council, which would ensure this was as balanced as possible. The first option is a Council that has a slim majority of members drawn from the veterinary professions (of whom a majority would be veterinary surgeons) compared to lay members. The second option is a Council with exact parity between veterinary professionals (of whom a majority would be veterinary surgeons) and lay members. 

Council was tied on whether to separate the position of RCVS President and the Chair of RCVS Council, meaning that this will come back for decision at a later date following the consultation.

RCVS President Sue Paterson said: “The unique way that RCVS Council is currently constituted with annual elections to Council is an old model of self-regulation which is no longer found in other professions including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, solicitors and social workers, among others.

“As a responsible regulator we have a duty to operate in a way that recognises modern principles of regulation, and best meets our objectives to enhance society through improved animal health and welfare by setting, upholding and advancing the educational, ethical and clinical standards for the veterinary professions.

"The College’s recommendations would see us retain self-regulation in the sense of independence from government, and maintain registrants within our governance framework, while better assuring the public that we are acting on their behalf.

“It is our firm belief that, among other things, moving to an all-appointed Council member system, whereby those who serve on Council are selected via an independent process based on their knowledge and experience to ensure input from all parts of the veterinary sector, will better serve our aims, as will having a better balance of professional and lay members.

"Of course, veterinary expertise, knowledge and experience will also remain a vital part of any future arrangements throughout our committee structure, so the veterinary voice will be as important as ever in our policy and decision-making processes.

Further details about the consultation process will be published in due course.

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