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Key decisions of March 2011 Council meeting

4 March 2011

RCVS Council met on 3 March, under the chairmanship of President Peter Jinman. The minutes of the meeting will be available in due course. In the meantime, read on for a brief summary of some of the key decisions.

RCVS Officers at Council meeting

Further detail on some of the decisions made, and their impact, will be found in the March 2011 issue of RCVS News.

New Council members

New Council members Professor Susan Dawson, new Head of the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Liverpool, and Professor Ewan Cameron, acting Head of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow, were welcomed to the Council.

Professor Stuart Reid, former Head of the Veterinary School at Glasgow, has recently replaced Professor Quintin McKellar as Principal of the Royal Veterinary College and took over his place on Council.

Code of Conduct for Council members

A draft Code of Conduct for Council members was discussed, and included areas such as Council members’ legal liability, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, communication, conduct and feedback.

It was developed on recommendation from the Governance Review Group. Council agreed to adopt the new Code, which will be available on the website shortly.

New joiner for Governance Review Group

A report from the Governance Review Group was noted. It announced that Professor Bill McKelvey had been appointed to join the Group, with effect from the AGM in July.

Degrees of approval

Council reviewed reports from visitations at three veterinary schools: the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), and two in Australia - James Cook University’s new veterinary school, and the school at the University of Queensland.

On the recommendation of the Education Policy and Specialisation Committee, Council agreed that the veterinary degree of the RVC (University of London) should continue to be recognised for registration purposes.

It also endorsed the recommendation that recognition be granted to the veterinary degree awarded by James Cook University.

Finally, it approved the decision to grant full recognition to the veterinary degree awarded by the University of Queensland.

Later in the meeting the suggestion was made, and approved, that the College write to the two Australian schools to offer condolences on the difficulties faced due to the recent flooding in Queensland.

Draft Code of Professional Conduct – approved for consultation

The key point of discussion from the report of the Advisory Committee to Council was the draft new Code of Professional Conduct, to replace the existing Guide to Professional Conduct.

A Working Party, under the Chairmanship of Clare Tapsfield-Wright, has developed the draft, which is a marked change in style and format from the existing Guide.

It includes a revised declaration, shorter principles-based sections and more on clinical competence.

The new Code was approved in draft, and will soon be available online for members of the profession and the public to comment upon.

The Advisory Committee Report also included a new Advice Note: Professional witnesses – veterinary surgeons giving factual evidence for a court hearing who also give a veterinary or expert opinion.

The new Advice Note (no 33) was approved by Council and will be online shortly.

Golden Jubilee Award for veterinary nursing

RCVS Council agreed to adopt the report of the Veterinary Nurses Council, which included recommendation for a new outstanding achievement award to recognise either an exceptional contribution to the development of veterinary nursing and/or a positive contribution to animal welfare.

The award forms part of the activities planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the veterinary nursing qualification.

Online record for lifelong learning

At its February meeting, the Planning and Resources Committee (P&RC) had approved a plan proposed by the Education Policy and Specialisation Committee for a new online recording system.

The new tool would enable individuals to keep a lifelong learning record of their professional development from Day One competences covered in intra- and extra-mural studies at vet school, through to Year One competences covered by the Professional Development Phase, to ongoing continuing professional development.

This was reported to Council via the P&RC report. Although there was one controversial aspect of the report, relating to the financial planning of the Lower Ground Floor refurbishment project, the rest of the report, including go-ahead to develop the new online recording system, was approved.

Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC) report

As a statutory Committee of Council, the Preliminary Investigation Committee’s report is presented to Council for note – with no decisions being required.

However, the Chairman of the Committee, Jill Nute, pointed out two areas for particular consideration.

First, that the PIC was currently working on eight cases of potential breaches of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, in concert with three police forces and Regional Trading Standards Officers.

Second, that the Committee wished to stress to the profession the importance of fully explaining the side-effects and risks of veterinary medicinal products supplied to clients, including obtaining consent forms for the use of off-label medicinal products under the cascade.

The full advice can be read on the PIC report.

Tuition fees – motion

A motion was laid before Council which recommended that a Working Group be set up to consider the impact of the removal of the current cap on university tuition fees in England on the future diversity of the veterinary profession and on the likelihood of veterinary students intercalating primary science degrees within the veterinary degree course, and to determine if the College could act in any practical way to reduce the impact.

The principle of the motion was passed, although leave was given to the Officer team to refine the proposed terms for the Working Group to ensure that it could achieve something meaningful.

New Junior Vice-President

Jacqui Molyneux, current President of the Society for Practising Veterinary Surgeons, was elected unopposed to the post of Junior Vice-President, a role she will take up at RCVS Day in July 2010.

It was also approved that the current Junior Vice-President, Dr Jerry Davies, should take on the mantle of President from July, and that the current President, Peter Jinman, would become Senior Vice-President.

Such transition is conventional, but requires Council’s ratification annually.

New Fellow

Council approved that Council Member Dr Chris Chesney be awarded the Diploma of Fellowship for his thesis entitled: The disciplinary processes of the RCVS 1881-2008.

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