The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has today published minor updates to its key coronavirus guidance for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, to reflect the developing situation and the latest guidance from the UK and devolved nation governments.

On 9 April, as part of its updated guidance to the veterinary professions, the RCVS published a flowchart to help veterinary professionals to decide whether or not to carry out a particular type of work, whilst ensuring the health of their teams and clients, and working to uphold animal health and welfare.

Following the Prime Minister’s address on 10 May, the RCVS issued a joint statement with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to say that there was no immediate need to change the existing guidance to the profession on how to manage cases and see animals safely.

The flowchart therefore remains deliberately broad to help guide veterinary professionals in all sectors through the decision-making process, whilst continuing to prioritise public health and incorporate appropriate risk assessment.

However, as government guidance continues to change, the College’s Covid-19 Taskforce has agreed small changes to two areas of the flow chart, as follows:

First, the box that previously said:

‘Can you effectively support the case while maintaining social distancing for your team and the public?’

Now says:

‘Can you effectively support the case while abiding by the appropriate social/physical distancing guidance for workplaces to protect your team and the public?’

The updated text better reflects the different language and varying guidance in place across devolved nations. It also recognises that the new government guidance is not just about maintaining a 2m distance, for which ‘social distancing’ appears to become a shorthand, but accepts that other biosecurity measures might be appropriate if the 2m rule cannot be followed in the workplace.

Second, the box that previously said:

‘Could the planned intervention have animal health and welfare or public health implications if not carried out within two months?’

Now says:

‘Could the planned intervention have animal health and welfare or public health implications if not carried out?’

This change recognises that this phase of lockdown-exit may carry on for longer than a two-month period; it therefore leaves it to the clinician’s professional judgement in terms of the implications versus the risk, rather than seeing it within a specific time-period.

RCVS President Niall Connell says: “I’m grateful to the members of our Covid-19 Taskforce for continuing to keep under review our key guidance to the profession during the ongoing pandemic. Whilst these latest changes do not represent any significant changes for vets and vet nurses as they continue to care for the nation’s animals, it is important that we continually keep our guidance in line with that of the UK’s governments.”

The updated flowchart is available to view and download here.