BVA seeks clarity on RCVS pledge to review guidance on telemedicine and remote prescribing

BVA has written to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to request urgent clarification after the College announced plans to carry out a wide-ranging review of several areas of supporting guidance in its Code of Professional Conduct.

Under plans agreed by RCVS Council in a closed session on 13 June, RCVS will review its supporting guidance on ‘under care’ and 24/7 cover, following ongoing discussions around trialling the development of telemedicine services, including remote prescribing, in UK veterinary practice.

In a letter to RCVS President Amanda Boag, BVA President Simon Doherty has expressed concern that the College has increasingly approached this complex and divisive issue in a manner that appears to exclude the veterinary profession from the debate. He sought urgent clarification on the thinking behind the decision and, most importantly, confirmation that RCVS remained committed to pan-professional consultation and engagement on this issue. In his letter, Mr Doherty has also requested a meeting with Ms Boag to discuss the matter in more detail ahead of BVA Council’s meeting next month (24 July).

Commenting further, Simon Doherty said: “Friday’s announcement of this review came as something of a surprise, and we know that several members had voiced concerns that the decision was made in a closed session at RCVS Council. RCVS had given us assurances that there would be high levels of stakeholder engagement in discussions on telemedicine, so it’s both disappointing and unexpected that some seven months later the first update is a largescale review, agreed behind closed doors. 

“Telemedicine presents both challenges and opportunities for the veterinary profession and we need to strike the right balance between being open to change and new technologies while ensuring that animal health and welfare remains paramount. It’s essential that all views are heard on such a wide-ranging and sensitive area, so we have asked RCVS to clarify their plans for ensuring the required wide engagement from all relevant sectors is achieved in an open, collaborative, and timely manner.”