Personal losses and professional gains

Georgina Grell
Sunday, June 2, 2019

May was a very sad month for the veterinary nursing profession, The Veterinary Nurse and for me. Early in May we lost Louise O'Dwyer and at the end of the month Lorraine Allan died after a short illness. Both Louise and Lorraine (see Lorraine's Obituary in this issue p.228) were fierce advocates of the veterinary nursing profession. They both knew the vital role played by veterinary nurses within the veterinary team. And they were both involved with nurse education and encouraged an evidence-based approach.

Happily, there continues to be growing support for the veterinary nursing profession within the UK — a greater appreciation of what nurses do and are capable of doing. In its new Vet-led Team concept, which was published last month, the BVA have made numerous recommendations for progressing the veterinary nursing profession. Their proposed model is based on an interdisciplinary group of appropriately trained and regulated professionals working together under the direction of the veterinary surgeon. It is not a new concept, but the BVA believes it is growing in prominence and importance. They make nine recommendations for the expansion of the role of RVNs.

One of the recommendations in their Policy Statement is: ‘The title ‘veterinary nurse’ should be protected in legislation in the interests of animal health, animal welfare, public health and to underline confidence in the professionalism of veterinary nurses.’ This issue has been discussed many times in the past — but it's a good thing to raise it again. Veterinary nurses are well trained and dedicated individuals — their title should be protected for the benefit of both the profession and the client.

With the approach of Brexit, among other reasons, there is concern about the capacity of the veterinary workforce. One suggestion to fill this capacity gap is to maximise the use of the the allied professions. As such, it is suggested that further work should be undertaken to clarify the duties that can be delegated to RVNs under Schedule 3. An awareness campaign is likely to be forthcoming to communicate this, and the BVA suggests provision of joint CPD with vets and RVNs. In addition, the BVA welcomes the RCVS' propsal to develop post-registration opportunities in order to develop the skills and expertise of RVNs — potentially providing exciting new career pathways for nurses.

The BVA also recommend that consideration should be given to granting RVNs: additional rights to dispense POM-V flea and wormer treatments; a role in repeat dispensing; an expanded role in anaesthesia; and consideration of expanding the role of RVNs in the management of chronic cases. SQPs are entitled to prescribe and/or supply certain veterinary medicines under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations — the BVA propose that it would be beneficial to incorporate the SQP role within RVN training. This would mean that in the future all RVNs would be SQPs. In addition, current RVNs should be able to obtain SQP status in a time-efficient and cost-effective manner. For all the recommendations from the BVA please look at the policy document.

The Veterinary Nurse has always aimed to promote best practice worldwide — sharing information and gold standard care with veterinary nurses and veterinary technicians wherever they live. I am particularly proud that in this issue of The Veterinary Nurse we include articles from Sweden, New Zealand and Australia. The global community we have promoted seems to be a rapidly approaching reality.

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