The BVNA fully supports the RCVS in its pursuit of recognition for qualified veterinary nurses and it recognises the great strides that VN Council has made in the last few years. However, it is true to say that this progression is, at times, frustratingly slow.

What the BVNA and the RCVS do agree upon is that this pursuit of formal recognition has at its core the need to recognise the significant responsibility that is placed upon veterinary nursing staff in modern practice and the commensurate need to ensure the protection of patient welfare as a result. Veterinary nurses have a greater degree of autonomy – given the precepts of the Veterinary Surgeons Act – than was ever envisaged when the training scheme was first devised half a century ago.

Do veterinary nurses want complete autonomy? Of course not! It would be impractical and would compromise patient welfare; because it must always be borne in mind that someone must take ultimate responsibility for the patient and that must always be the veterinary surgeon.

Does the veterinary nurse have an enhanced role to play within this hierarchy? I would suggest that this must be the case in modern practice, for no reason other than the fact that the sophistication of veterinary health care makes it well nigh impossible for the veterinary surgeon to take sole responsibility for the delivery of every aspect of patient care.

It follows then that veterinary nurses must also be regulated and the mechanism by which this is delivered must protect patient welfare and define the role of the qualified veterinary nurse. The BVNA has worked hard to raise awareness of this amongst its members and the veterinary nursing profession as a whole.

Canvassing a number of MPs last year helped to raise awareness, and the introduction of an e-petition has resulted in over 2,000 signatures, so far. However, this must be put into perspective, as a total of 100,000 signatures must be obtained for it to process to the next stage of debate in the House of Commons.

The most likely method of persuading the Government to support regulation for qualified veterinary nurses is to harness the existing relationship that the RCVS has with Defra. The College has committed itself to this process, but are its members fully supportive?

I would suggest that there may be some resistance from a percentage who do not envisage the necessity for regulation, as evidenced by recent correspondence in the veterinary press. Moreover, it could also be argued that a proportion of veterinary nurses are also hesitant, in part because they do not really understand the full implication of regulation.

So what is the next stage? That is for the RCVS to decide; but it is incumbent upon veterinary nurses to engage with the debate as far – and as widely – as possible. 


Claire Fraser RVN MBVNA



Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 27 • July 2012 •