Making the decision to ‘blow the whistle’ on a professional colleague in cases of unprofessional or unethical behaviour or even illegal activities can be fraught with difficulty as veterinary nurses may be concerned about their current and future job prospects and professional relationships should they choose to raise a concern.

However, under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, employees are protected from detrimental treatment in certain circumstances and, as a regulator, the RCVS would always recommend reporting inappropriate behaviour. This may include, for example, a breach of our Code of Professional Conduct, unethical behaviour (such as false certification), care of an animal that falls far short of expected standards or practising under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The first consideration when deciding to ‘blow the whistle’ is whether the veterinary nurse is able to resolve the matter internally, perhaps by discussing the concern with the senior veterinary surgeon at the practice. We would encourage veterinary nurses to observe any internal protocol for whistle¬blowing. However, if the conduct is particularly serious, involves senior members of the practice or organisation or if it has been reported internally but remains unresolved, then we would recommend contacting our Professional Conduct Department for further advice.

When contacting our Professional Conduct Department, however, the veterinary nurse should consider that, first, it is likely that we will ask them to submit a formal complaint and, second, that we may not be able to fully investigate anonymous concerns and that, therefore, they will have to go ‘on the record’. In the case of conduct that falls out of our jurisdiction we will recommend that veterinary nurses bring the issue to the relevant body, for example, the police or trading standards.

In regards to the Public Interest Disclosure Act, we recommend that veterinary nurses seek independent legal advice to see if they qualify for protection under the Act and for further guidance on how their employment may be affected. As members of the BVNA a good place to start would be the Members Advisory Service on 01279 408 644. Alternative sources of help include the Citizens Advice Bureau, Public Concern at Work, the Health and Safety Executive and the Law Society.

The full details of our supporting guidance on whistle-blowing can be found at

If you have witnessed unprofessional, unethical or illegal activity in the workplace you can contact our Professional Conduct Department on 020 7202 0789 or in confidence for initial advice.

Recognition of international qualifications

In March the VN Education Subcommittee put in place a framework for the accreditation of veterinary nursing qualifications delivered by awarding organisations and higher education institutions wholly or partially outside the UK. Such organisations are now welcome to apply for the accreditation process, during which they will be subject to visitations and must satisfy a series of criteria including meeting our day one competences and skills for veterinary nurses and recognition of the qualification by the appropriate bodies in the relevant country.

Members of the VN Education Subcommittee also formalised the registration rules for veterinary nurses graduating outside both the European Union and the European Economic Area. Any veterinary nurse from outside the EU/EEA applying to join the Register will have their application assessed on a case-by- case basis but will be subject to pre-registration theory and practical examinations.

Once they have met the criteria for registration they will be invited to attend the College where their identification and qualification certificates will be checked. A member of staff will also explain the content of the Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses and check their understanding via a short questionnaire. If there appears to be a lack of understanding the applicant could be asked to complete a short assignment. Registration will not be confirmed until the College is satisfied that the Code has been understood.

All the details of the accreditation requirements, pre-registration documents and all other aspects of international qualifications can be found in our new Awarding Organisation and Higher Education Institution Handbook which is available to download from

Vet Futures: contribute to the debate

There are myriad ways that you can contribute to the joint RCVS/BVA Vet Futures initiative, which aims to help all members of the veterinary team identify and prepare for those issues which will affect them in the future.

Every month the Vet Futures website ( features a different ‘topic of the month’ with an associated poll question which allows us to gauge how members of the profession feel about a particular issue. We also encourage people to comment on each of the issues – so if you have strong opinions about something don’t be shy: let us know!

We will also be conducting a survey with members of the profession in the summer – check on the website for further details.

Members of the veterinary team are also welcome to find out more about the initiative by coming along to a Vet Futures roadshow event at the Village Urban Resort in Swansea on Wednesday 17 June – this is the last of a series of six meetings that have been held across the UK. Please visit events to sign up.

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 30 • June 2015 •