27 January 2021
Coronavirus Update 24: Reassurance, fee instalments, CPD pause and digital resources
Here is the RCVS’ latest update for veterinary surgeons, nurses and practices across the UK on their guidance relating to the coronavirus outbreak.
Not business as usual
As the pandemic and its associated restrictions – particularly the recent changes to key worker status for many vets – continue to severely affect veterinary practice across the UK, we understand that ‘business as usual’ cannot, and should not, be expected to continue.
We also realise that it may become increasingly challenging for veterinary professionals to continue to meet all their usual professional obligations – including the provision of 24-hour emergency cover – where practice teams may have reduced capacity due to illness, self-isolation, shielding, travel restrictions and/or caring responsibilities.
Whilst we fully appreciate you will continually strive to meet these obligations wherever possible, we would like to repeat our previous message of reassurance to all those in the veterinary team who continue to work tirelessly to care for the nation’s animals.
We understand the extreme challenges and difficult decisions you are facing and have no interest in taking anyone to task for considered professional judgement, providing you act reasonably in the circumstances, can justify your actions and take reasonable notes. We would also encourage neighbouring practices to work together to ensure steps can be taken to provide emergency cover.
We continue to review and update our coronavirus guidance on a regular basis, and would urge you to refer to this as often as possible. Alternatively, should you have any specific queries, do please contact our advice team at email@example.com or 020 7202 0789.
Renewal fees: instalment payments for UK-practising vets
To reflect the challenges the profession continues to face from the ongoing pandemic, RCVS Council recently agreed that UK-practising veterinary surgeons would once again be able to choose to pay their £364 renewal fee in up to three instalments this year (50% by end of April, 25% by end of September and 25% by end of December) to help spread the cost.
Whilst Council had already decided that there will be no renewal fee increase this year, it also agreed that the higher renewal fee, due if paid between 1 May and the end of May, would again be waived for all members. We will include full details of these options with the renewal fee notice, due to be emailed to all members in mid-February.
In addition, RCVS Council also agreed that Practice Standards Scheme members could also pay their fees by instalments in 2021, and that registered veterinary nurses would again be given an extra month to pay their fees at the beginning of 2022.
CPD targets under more frequent review
The Covid-19 Taskforce agreed in November to retain normal annual CPD targets for vets and vet nurses in 2021, subject to a mid-year review. However, following the latest national lockdown restrictions and recent change to critical/key worker status for many vets, the Taskforce decided to bring forward this review to mid-February.
Meanwhile, the Taskforce wished to remind colleagues that anyone struggling to meet the normal targets, or with a planned work break such as parental leave, could apply for a ‘CPD pause’ for up to six months, without the need to make up the hours after the agreed period had finished.
To discuss pausing your CPD, please contact the CPD team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free digital resources updated for practices
We have updated our range of free digital resources for practices to download and use on their social media channels to help measure expectations of animal owners during the ongoing restrictions. These include social media cards (Facebook and Instagram) that cover a variety of scenarios for small animal and equine practices, plus posters that can be printed off to display in practice windows.
Vets as Covid vaccinators
A change in legislation has now allowed a wider group of individuals to undertake training to deliver the coronavirus vaccines. However, while veterinary surgeons can sign up as vaccinators, they are not on the list of healthcare professionals that are being encouraged by the NHS to apply for roles in the vaccination roll-out programme.
Veterinary professionals may also be able to get involved in supporting the vaccine delivery process by applying as volunteers through the St John Ambulance volunteering scheme.
A variety of other ways in which veterinary professionals can use their skills, training and expertise to help in the national effort to fight the pandemic, in particular in maintaining the food supply, are set out in FAQ 17.
Where registered veterinary practice premises (RVPP) remain closed due to the pandemic, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate has reconfirmed that medicines may continue to be supplied from temporary premises during the national lockdown restrictions.
The UK government suspended travel corridors for each of the four nations from 4am on 18 January 2021. Exemptions for certain individuals remain in place; however, as these continue to differ across the four nations, we have updated our guidance in FAQ 23 accordingly.
Registration allowances for overseas-qualified vets
All overseas-qualified veterinary surgeons wishing to register with the RCVS (now including those who qualified in the EU) must also pass an English language test in addition to having a recognised veterinary qualification or having passed the RCVS Statutory Membership Exam. However, as few physical test centres are open currently, the Covid-19 Taskforce has approved the use of another online provider – the IELTS Indicator test – in order to ensure overseas-qualified vets an continue to register to practice in the UK.
Meanwhile, whilst all overseas-qualified vets will continue to have to provide evidence of good standing before they can register, this will no longer be required of those enrolling for the Statutory Membership Exam until after they have passed the examination. The Taskforce agreed to remove this potential barrier to enrolment considering the difficulties experienced by some in obtaining this signed documentation during the pandemic. Exam candidates should still register within 12 months of passing the final component of the exam.
We continue to offer video appointments to overseas-qualified applicants to the RCVS Register to prevent any unnecessary travel and to reduce delays caused by travel restrictions.