We recognise that many veterinary practices are businesses and rely on clients for their income. The days when it was deemed unprofessional to advertise veterinary services are long gone and many practices now actively promote their business in order to attract new clients. As a veterinary nurse, you might be asked to help with the advertising efforts of your practice.

First and foremost you should bear in mind the obligation in the Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses – veterinary nurses promoting and advertising products and services must do so in a professional manner (6.3). You should also have a read of chapter 23 of the supporting guidance – ‘Advertising and publicity’. All advertising and publicity should be professional, accurate and truthful and should not be of a character that would bring the profession into disrepute (for example, an unsolicited visit) and should not be misleading or exploit an animal owner’s lack of veterinary knowledge.

In addition to our own professional conduct guidance, any practice looking to launch an advertising campaign should consult the UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (also known as the ‘CAP Code’) which is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority. The Code can be downloaded from http://www.cap. org.uk/Advertising-Codes/Non-Broadcast.aspx

We would encourage you to tread carefully if you are planning to produce an advertisement that makes claims of superiority over your competitors, paying particular attention to Section 3 of the CAP Code which concerns misleading advertising. This type of advert can potentially be more difficult to get right and can leave you open to complaints from your competitors.

We would also recommend seeking advice and guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (www.ico.org.uk) to make sure that it is compliant with current data protection legislation.

On a slightly separate note, veterinary nurses should not endorse a veterinary product or service, whether explicitly or implicitly. Endorsement may take many forms but, in essence, it is where the reputation and/or professional qualification of a professional is linked to a product or service. This is regarded as unprofessional because it has the potential to make the public think that the product or service is superior to others, and this may not be the case. Veterinary nurses may, however, endorse non-veterinary products and    services, provided such an endorsement does not bring the profession into disrepute.

In terms of publicity, we recognise that veterinary nurses can make a worthwhile contribution to the promotion of animal welfare and responsible pet ownership through involvement in the media such as local or national press, radio and television. However, we recommend that, if commenting to the media, veterinary nurses should clearly distinguish between personal opinion and established facts and declare any conflicts of interest when interacting with the media.

We also ask that veterinary nurses be careful not to express or imply that their views are shared by other veterinary nurses or a professional organisation to which they belong, such as the British Veterinary Nursing Association, unless they are an authorised spokesperson for such an organisation.

To read our full supporting guidance on advertising and publicity please visit: www.rcvs.org.uk/advertising.


• VOL 30 • August 2015 • Veterinary Nursing Journal