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Telemedicine debate prompts Code of Conduct review

‘Anomalies’ found in supporting guidance, RCVS says 

Discussions on the development of telemedicine services have prompted a wide-ranging review of the supporting guidance to the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct.

RCVS Council approved the review this week. It will cover several key provisions of the supporting guidance, including 24-hour emergency cover and the interpretation and application of an animal being ‘under the care’ of a veterinary surgeon.

The review was recommended by the Standards Committee, which explored the implications of new technology for animal health and welfare, as well as veterinary regulation. 

Committee meetings, a public consultation and external legal advice revealed a number of anomalies in the existing guidance, which could affect how the code is applied across a range of scenarios.

Chair of the Standards Committee, Dr Kate Richards, said: “It became clear to us that we could not consider telemedicine and remote prescribing in isolation and that it raised broader questions around the appropriateness of, and justification for, certain elements of existing RCVS guidance.

“I’m therefore pleased that RCVS Council has decided that the right and responsible approach is first to conduct a full review of these provisions.”

The review is expected to require wide engagement from all relevant sectors and could include a select committee-style hearing in certain areas. 

In the meantime, the college stressed that the current Code and guidance remain in full effect.