RCVS, BVA and BVNA news: Veterinary profession gets ready for compulsory microchipping as year-to-go countdown begins

With less than a year to go before the microchipping of dogs in England, Scotland and Wales becomes mandatory, vets across the country are getting set to help dog owners prepare for the new regulations.
These changes in regulation follow the introduction of compulsory microchipping in Northern Ireland in 2012. This means that from spring 2016 there will be compulsory microchipping of dogs across the entire UK and veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses across the country are preparing to make sure owners know their obligations and that their pets are safely microchipped.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has now finalised the new regulations for England, which include a provision that dog breeders and other individuals who wish to implant microchips and have no previous approved training, must undergo a compulsory training course.
While veterinary surgeons were exempted from this training, Defra initially envisaged that veterinary nurses would be required to undertake it. In a joint letter, that was followed by negotiations with Defra, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), stressed that registered veterinary nurses are already sufficiently trained to be able to safely implant a microchip, and would be doing so under the direction of a veterinary surgeon.
Defra subsequently has agreed that registered veterinary nurses are already sufficiently qualified to implant microchips, and will therefore be exempt from further training requirements when new legislation comes in for England. Wales and Scotland are currently considering the details of implementation.
To help veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, as well as practices, raise awareness of owners’ legal obligation to microchip their dogs, the BVA has posters available for all three regions (England, Scotland and Wales) that can be displayed in waiting rooms and surgeries. The posters are available to download from the BVA website (www.bva.co.uk).
BVA President John Blackwell said: “As a founding member of the Microchipping Alliance, which campaigned for compulsory microchipping together with dog welfare organisations, local authorities and others, BVA is delighted with the progress that has been made and it is very good indeed to be less than a year away from mandatory microchipping across the UK.
“But this is where the work begins for veterinary surgeons and nurses. We need to work hard to make owners aware of the new law throughout this year, with animals microchipped as far in advance of the deadline as possible.
“We also need to ensure that microchipping does the job it is intended to do. This process will be helped very much by not compelling veterinary nurses to undertake additional training when they already undertake minor acts of veterinary surgery that are much more complex procedures than implanting a microchip.”
RCVS Vice-President Neil Smith, who met with Defra officials alongside RCVS Head of Veterinary Nursing Julie Dugmore, said: “As RVNs are regulated by the RCVS, compulsory microchipping training would have been an unnecessary regulatory burden. It would have also been an additional financial burden to practices, which would have had to be passed on to clients. I am very pleased that Defra recognised this and agreed to exempt veterinary nurses from further training so long as they are under the direction of a veterinary surgeon.”
BVNA President Fiona Andrews added: “We are delighted that the decision to exempt RVNs from compulsory microchipping training has been reached in collaboration with Defra and our veterinary colleagues.
“It is the right decision and recognises the professionalism and expertise of RVNs and the vital role they play in helping to provide critical services such as microchipping to clients as well as the support they give to veterinary surgeons. Veterinary nurses will play an important part in the drive to ensure dogs across the country are microchipped before the enforcement deadline.
“We would take this opportunity to remind our RVN colleagues that in order to be deemed competent under the terms of the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct they should be able to provide details of the previous training they have taken part in or should update their skills to comply with the Code.”
A spokesperson for Defra added: “Defra is very keen to avoid imposing any unnecessary burdens; our discussions with the RCVS, BVA and BVNA are a good example of the sort of collaborative working that helps to ensure we get the most workable legislation possible.”
The RCVS is also aware of new Defra microchipping guidelines for England which make it compulsory to report adverse reactions (including migration from the site of implantation) or the failure of a microchip. Gordon Hockey, RCVS Registrar, comments: “There is some concern in the profession about this requirement, but Defra have said that they would not enforce this regulation via the courts, or seek to impose fines. The RCVS is likely to amend its supporting guidance later this year to clarify that veterinary surgeons should make appropriate reports, similar to reports for adverse reactions to veterinary medicines. In each case reports can be made online to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.”

Notes to editors
1. The RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the UK and sets, upholds and advances veterinary standards, so as to enhance society through improved animal health and welfare.
2. BVA posters for England, Scotland and Wales promoting the new legislation can be downloaded from http://www.bva.co.uk/News-campaigns-and-policy/Campaigns/Microchipping-and-registration-for-all-dogs/

For more information, please contact:
Ben Myring (020 7202 0783) b.myring@rcvs.org.uk
Communications Department, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

4 responses to “RCVS, BVA and BVNA news: Veterinary profession gets ready for compulsory microchipping as year-to-go countdown begins”

  1. Fred Nind says:

    So, we are left with the stupid situation that any veterinary surgeon, veterinary nurse or indeed any member of the public who fails to report a failed or migrated microchip has committed a criminal offence and risks a fine of up to £500, but Defra has stated publicly that it will not prosecute. Can I please have a list of all of the other laws that I can break without being at risk of prosecution?

    The definition of adverse events includes microchip migration, but as the Regulations do not specify where microchips should be implanted I wonder how one would know that it had moved from the implant site, unless, of course, one had implanted it oneself and could remember where one put it.

    • helen groves-de-milleret says:

      Most of our patient species have an accepted conventional implantation site, e.g. interscapula (dog and cat), left inguinum or thigh (tortoises) etc, etc. Those with pet passports also have the implantation site noted. So, if the chip isn\’t in these locations, it has probably migrated.
      How far from the original implantation site constitutes unacceptable migration? But that\’s a different question.

    • Marie says:

      The chip can move inside the skin sometimes months..years later. The scanner will pick up exactly whee the chip is.

  2. The main thing is that microchipping is coming. That must be good to recognise pets that have gone astray. Does anyone know how common microchip failure and migration is. Hopefully lower with vets than lay implanters

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