The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, which earlier this year brought veterinary nurses under its regulatory authority, is backing a bill that would forbid anyone not registered with the organization from using the title “veterinary nurse.”
Legislation submitted Tuesday in the British Parliament’s House of Lords would permit fines to be levied on unqualified people who use the title or imply they are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
“It would mark the final brick in the wall of creating a fully-fledged, recognized and protected veterinary nursing profession,” said the bill’s sponsor, Alexander “Sandy” Trees, BVMS, Ph.D., a member of the House of Lords.
“This is what the veterinary nursing profession merits and the public deserve.”
Supporters did not point to widespread misuse of the veterinary nurse—or veterinary technician—title. A narrated video on the RCVS website focuses on how the law would benefit pets.
“It’s still possible for an unregistered person with no training to call themselves a veterinary nurse,” the video noted. “This could put animal welfare at risk.
“Only people who have been properly trained and registered should be able to call themselves veterinary nurses.”
Kathy Kissick, RVN, chairwoman of the RCVS Veterinary Nurse Council, said nurses “wear our badges with pride.”
“We owe it to the general public and to our clients to ensure that they are under no illusions that a veterinary nurse is a qualified or a training professional, who works to a code of conduct, and ensures that the animals in their care get the best possible nursing care,” Kissick said. “By protecting the title ‘veterinary nurse’ we can remove any doubt about who or what a veterinary nurse is.”
Passage of the law is not guaranteed, said Dr. Trees, former dean of the University of Liverpool veterinary school.
“If we are drawn high enough in the ballot and if we can get parliamentary time—two important ifs—I am confident that the bill will receive total cross-party support,” he said.
The legislation has the backing of the British Veterinary Association.
“BVA has long supported full recognition of the role of veterinary nurses, who are an essential part of the veterinary team,” said the group’s president, John Blackwell, BVSc, MRCVS. “The new RCVS charter was a historic step that established a regulated veterinary nursing profession. Now we need to go one step further and protect the title of RVN.”
The charter, which went into effect in February, pulled veterinary technicians across the United Kingdom into a single regulatory body and compelled them to obey the same code of professional conduct. They must register with the RCVS, subject themselves to the organization’s disciplinary system and meet other requirements.