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A review of legislation regulating Britain’s veterinary profession – The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 – is now open for public consultation.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) wants greater transparency, and to cast a wider legal safety net over vets and related health professionals.

H&H’s consultant vet Karen Coumbe hopes any legislative changes to the Act would help control unorthodox and unregulated treatments by individuals who are neither vets nor farriers, but practise “radical trimming.” This potentially causes harm to horses’ feet, or other damage.

“Also, there are currently many grey areas as to who is allowed to do what to horses. With recognised health professionals, such as physiotherapists, there are restrictions, yet unqualified individuals sometimes seem to do more than they should,” said Coumbe.

The RCVS has made it clear that it believes the Veterinary Surgeons Act is based on an outdated model for professional self-regulation, and that it needs to be brought into the 21st Century: “Although there have been no Shipman-type cases in the veterinary sector, we believe it is better to learn from how other professions have changed their regulation as a result of circumstances,” said Roger Eddy, chairman of the RCVS working party, which developed the proposals.

The working party also believes that the legislation needs to change in relation to regulating professional conduct to bring it into line with the Human Rights Act 1998, with which it does not strictly conform.

The consultation is intended to bring the RCVS into a position whereby when the government is prepared to legislate on this subject, it has its goals clear.

The RCVS has set a 1 August deadline for comments on the Act. It is not yet known when the government will proceed with new legislation.

You can see the consultation document at: www.rcvs.org.uk/vsareview.