Ask the Vet
Which Veterinary Practice should I choose?
Question: I have just moved in to the area and am looking for a veterinary practice for my cat and dog. I have asked neighbours for recommendations but was wondering if there is an official accreditation scheme in operation to help me find a practice with a high standard of care?
Answer: Pets are often treated as members of the family and owners rightly want to be sure they receive excellent medical treatment. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is the veterinary profession’s governing body and, among other things, sets standards of education and behaviour for vets. The regulatory function of the RCVS has always meant that users of veterinary services could be assured that their veterinary surgeon was properly qualified and fit to practise. It has recently set up a voluntary initiative, called the Practice Standards Scheme, to accredit veterinary practices in the UK. By setting standards and carrying out regular inspections, the RCVS aims to promote and maintain the highest standards of veterinary care for the benefits of animals and their owners. Practices may also be subject to spot-checks between inspections. By displaying the official plaque, your practice is letting its clients know that they are proud of their premises, staff and equipment, have voluntarily joined the scheme and are happy to be inspected by the RCVS. It offers peace of mind to clients of accredited practices and more informed choice to the animal-owning public.
There are three levels, or Tiers, in the scheme. Tier 1 is the core standard, where practices have met a range of minimum standards including hygiene, 24-hour emergency cover, staff training, certain types of equipment and cost estimation procedures. Basically, it signifies compliance with legal and health and safety standards. Tier 2 practices, like ours, have gone further and may be accredited as a general practice for small animals, farm animals or equine patients, or as an emergency service clinic, or a combination of these, and may also be a training centre for veterinary nurses. Tier 3 means the practice is to the standard of, or registered as, an RCVS Veterinary Hospital for either small animals or equine patients. These practices meet an even wider range of requirements, for example a person directly responsible for the nursing care of inpatients as well as a veterinary surgeon must be on the premises at all times and these clinics are allowed to contain the word ‘Hospital’ within their name.
For peace of mind, look for the RCVS accredited practice logo, which indicates that the practice has passed an independent inspection. This means high standards of care for pets and peace of mind for pet owners. To check if a practice is accredited, or find one that is visit the RCVS website on http://www.rcvs.org.uk and use their ‘Find a Vet’ service.