ABSTRACT: Lantra is a UK-wide skills organisation that supports individuals and businesses working in veterinary activities and other land-based industries. In its role as a Sector Skills Council, Lantra liaises with industry professionals to help develop National Occupational Standards, construct apprenticeship frameworks and support the industry with research.

Tasked with supporting industry through skills and business development. Lantra has developed – and delivers – a range of business solution tools, designed to help veterinary practices such Investors in People.

Have you ever heard or seen the name 'Lantra' without a clear understanding of what it does and how it works with the veterinary nursing profession and veterinary practice?

Your first thought might be ‘skills’ or 'standards’, and to be honest, that is partially correct; but Lantra’s involvement with the veterinary activities industry is much broader than simply promoting skills and training.

As an employer-led organisation, Lantra is licensed by the Government to work alongside veterinary businesses and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) as the regulatory body, looking at:

   the skills needed by the industry;

   developing standards; and

   helping to improve performance and productivity.

To do this, Lantra has worked closely with veterinary nurses and their employers to help everyone derive the most benefit out of training and funding. Funding is in short supply for training at the moment, but our role is to identify and clarify where opportunities might be available. In some situations, VN apprenticeships are funded, so we have produced a guidance document to answer your questions, available at www.lantra.co.uk/VN-app-guide.

Central to our work is attending industry events to find out what the current issues are for all in veterinary practice. A good example is the BVNA Congress where our regular corner spot upstairs has given the opportunity for visitors to comment on topics such as the NOS review, CPD, job roles and titles, and their favourite and least favourite things about life in practice (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Lisa speaking with Bonny Millar at the 2007 BVNA Congress

Alternatively, we attend as delegates, to visit stands, attend lectures and arrange meetings over a cup of coffee. And in some instances, we have opportunities to give presentations to explain the nature and function of our work at Lantra (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Lisa speaking about skills at an industry event

On the event calendar so far are the BVA Congress, BVNA Congress, VPMA Congress and the London Vet Show.

Diverse support

One way Lantra supports the veterinary activities industry is by producing National Occupational Standards (NOS) which describe in detail the skills, experience, abilities and knowledge necessary to fulfil a role effectively. NOS are the foundation stones of many vocational qualifications. They are used in job descriptions, development and recruitment plans and highlight best practice.

The VN NOS were reviewed in 2010 but we welcome comments on them at any time and not just during a formal review.

The VN NOS can be used, then, when you are considering your continuing professional development (CPD). As this is a key responsibility for all Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs), it is vital that you find the right path for your career development and professional responsibilities.

Research shows a link to business profitability – training boosts productivity by four per cent, with every £1 invested in skills making a return of between £3 to £6. This is a useful point when completing your next CPD request form.

2011 and beyond…

Valerie Owen, OBE, was appointed as Lantra’s new chair in Spring 2011 and is dedicated to supporting veterinary professionals. She said, “The veterinary profession is central to the promotion of animal health and welfare in practice and we welcome the great strides being taken to improve professionalism through registration. We look forward to seeing this develop in areas such as CPD and career development.”

As of April 2011, Lantra became the first Sector Skills Council approved to accredit Investors in People (IIP), which is great news for veterinary practices because Lantra already understands your professional and business concerns. We look forward to working with veterinary practices to seek new ways to support businesses, offering solutions to increase their success and to build the skills of the entire workforce.

Some professionals have already experienced how IIP can have a positive impact on their veterinary practices. In 2010, Mill House Veterinary Surgery & Hospital was the first veterinary practice in England to achieve Gold recognition. Formed in 1984 by vets David and Carole Clarke, Mill House Veterinary Surgery & Hospital initially started with just two partners and now employs a team of 32 people, many of whom have more than 15 years’ service (Figure 3).

Figure 3: David and Carole Clarke receiving GOLD Investors in People status

When asked why the practice is so committed to working with the Investors in People framework, Carole commented, “Investors in People makes us think very carefully about what we do from the management side of the business. It enables me to measure how well I am running my business, how well I treat my people, and to benchmark my management style against best practice. It also demonstrates everyone’s commitment to the practice and encourages ownership of our success.

“The process back in the ‘90s used to be like a paper chase. The new approach is not like that at all and there is very little extra preparation for assessment. We use the assessment process to find out what our staff think about our business, what we can do better and what we can improve upon. We find it a really positive experience.”

One of the many issues currently facing the veterinary profession is the introduction of the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme. At a time when many practices are focussing on the Practice Standards, Carole clearly recognises the compatibility between these and Investors in People.

She comments, “The RCVS Practice Standards Scheme is about complying with legislation and being professional in running the clinical side of the practice. Investors in People is about being professional in running and managing the business. The two frameworks are totally complementary and provide a truly professional approach to both practice and clinical delivery.”

There are many other ways that you can become involved with Lantra’s work. For example, we have been asked to assist with reforming a VN Educators Group. I
n addition, the animal care industry has tasked us to look at the use of animals in education with the aim of developing guidelines for good practice in their husbandry and use, and the skills and training issues of the staff working with them.

Recently Lantra has urged veterinary practices across the UK to participate in a consultation focusing on the proposed development of a new Level 2 Intermediate/Foundation Apprenticeship for support and auxiliary staff in veterinary practice. The initial consultation ran from 29th (uly until October this year.

It is very important that veterinary professionals connect with Lantra’s work. There are are many different opportunities to engage:

  apply to join the Veterinary Activities industry group1* – further representatives from veterinary practices are being sought; provide feedback on the development of the new apprenticeship framework for veterinary nursing assistants;

   support the VN Educators Group if you are involved with veterinary nurse lecturing; and

  comment on the Animals in Education work.

Without your involvement it will be impossible for Lantra to continually support the animal health and welfare industries.

In the past, 'veterinary activities' were included in an industry group that focused on farriery and animal technology. This has changed now so that veterinary organisations, employers and RVNs have their own industry group. This new group, entitled 'Veterinary Activities' encompasses all aspects of the veterinary industry.

The Veterinary Activities industry group meets twice a year to discuss industry issues, qualifications, training and to steer Lantra's work. The group has representatives from the BVNA, RCVS, SPVS, British Association of Equine Dental Technicians, Equine Podiatry Society and several veterinary practices.


Lisa Jarvis RVN

Lisa trained and qualified as a veterinary nurse in 1989 at Seadown Veterinary Hospital in Hampshire, and has since worked in a variety of practices in the UK and overseas in Israel and Hong Kong. She completed th eLarge Animal Veterinary Nursing course at Bicton College in Devon as well her CertEd and Assessor and Verifier qualifications.

Prior to starting with Lantra, Lisa worked as a lecturer at Lackham College in Wiltshire and then Kingston Maurward College in Dorset, where she became the regional co-ordinator for the BVNA for the counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Somerset.

In 2010, Lisa was awarded Honorary Membership of the BVNA for her work in support of the veterinary nursing profession.

To cite this article use either

DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2011.00135.x or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 27 pp30-31

Veterinary Nursing Journal • VOL 27 • January 2011 •