Navigating Schedule 3

We have recently published a set of case studies on our website to help both veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses better navigate how Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act, which allows veterinary surgeons to delegate certain minor surgical procedures and medical treatments to veterinary nurses, applies to modern clinical practice.

The case studies have grown out of both the VN Futures project and the results of a consultation exercise the College undertook last year that, in part, aimed to gauge levels of understanding about Schedule 3 amongst both veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.

The results of the consultation – which more than 11,000 people responded to – demonstrated that both vets and VNs lacked confidence in their understanding of Schedule 3 and that, when asked what prevented full utilisation of veterinary nurses, the majority of both vets and VNs cited a lack of understanding about what can – and can’t – be delegated under Schedule 3.

Following the consultation, our Schedule 3 Working Party was tasked with producing materials to help veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and student veterinary nurses feel more confident that they are working legally and safely and that their skills and experience are being fully utilised in practice.

A series of case studies – developed collaboratively with the College’s Standards and Advice Team – gives practical examples of how Schedule 3 and delegation relates to a number of commonly encountered situations in clinical practice. The case studies cover areas such as the supervision of student veterinary nurses, who can give first and second vaccinations, microchipping, veterinary nursing and dentistry and decisions about prescribing medicines.

The series of case studies is available to view on website at Further materials will be produced in due course.

Please note that these case studies should be read in conjunction with both the Code of Professional Conduct and Chapter 18 of the Code's supporting guidance (‘Delegation to veterinary nurses’) available to view at

PSP policy change

At its May meeting, members of Veterinary Nurses Council approved new rules for the Period of Supervised Practice (PSP) for veterinary nurses returning to the UK Register after time working overseas.

The PSP provides an opportunity for those who have taken a break from the Register (normally five years and over) to work with a named mentor to refresh their knowledge and skills before formally re-joining the Register.

However, it has been recognised that the PSP may not be appropriate for individuals who have left the UK Register to work as a veterinary nurse overseas and then have returned to the UK.

It was therefore proposed that these applicants could be made exempt from having to undertake the PSP, provided they could supply evidence that their nursing experience while off the Register was similar to that they could expect in the UK, that they were employed as a veterinary nurse for at least two of the five years they were off the Register and that they undertook relevant continuing professional development (CPD) during that time.

Victoria Hedges, Examinations Manager at the RCVS, said: “Individuals who are re-joining the Register after working in veterinary nursing abroad are less likely to need to update their knowledge and skills and be mentored to help regain their confidence of working in clinical practice and so this decision by VN Council is a welcome change"

All applications for the PSP exemptions will be reviewed by a small working group comprising representatives from VN Council. The policy will also be reviewed by VN Council after one year.

Awarding Organisation update

The Veterinary Nursing Education Committee granted UK awarding organisation VetSkill conditional provisional accreditation for their Level 3 Diploma in veterinary nursing at its meeting on Friday 25 May.

The decision by the Committee means that VetSkill is now accredited to award a new license to practice Level 3 Diploma, which can be delivered by further education and private training providers in the UK.

All new awarding institutions are first given provisional accreditation, with full accreditation being awarded after the institution demonstrates the suitability of their end-point assessment which must be completed and passed for individuals to be able to join the Register of Veterinary Nurses.

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 33 • August 2018