The petition started by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) asking the Government to protect the title ‘veterinary nurse’ has now closed with over 36,000 people having supported the campaign.
The petition was launched in August 2015 with the aim of getting the Government legally to protect ‘veterinary nurse’ so that only those professionals who have the relevant education and training and who are appropriately registered with the RCVS can refer to themselves as such, and to criminalise improper use of the term.
Within its first week the petition gathered over 10,000 signatures and, as the petition closed on Sunday 14 February 2016, some 36,862 people from across the UK had signed it.
In January 2016 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) responded to the petition saying that, while it recognised the important role that veterinary nurses have in animal care, it did not recommend that Parliament give the title legal protection. However, Defra has agreed to work with the RCVS to review Schedule 3, which outlines which veterinary procedures can be delegated to registered veterinary nurses, and find new ways of bolstering the veterinary nursing profession.
The joint RCVS and British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) project VN Futures, which aims to help veterinary nurses prepare for and shape their future, will also be looking at ways of strengthening and raising awareness of the profession.
Liz Cox, Chair of the RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council, said: “We were very impressed with the level of support that the petition received from all quarters, including veterinary nurses, veterinary surgeons, members of the public and Members of Parliament; the way in which it raised public awareness of what veterinary nurses do; and how it has galvanised and emboldened the veterinary nursing profession. This was demonstrated by the fact that an animated video we produced to highlight the role that veterinary nurses play in practice had around 100,000 views.
“While we were disappointed with Defra’s response, we will continue to argue that the veterinary nurse title should be a legally protected one, like that of veterinary surgeon.
“While the RCVS and membership organisations campaign at a national level, it is important that both VNs and veterinary surgeons continue to promote and explain veterinary nursing to clients. Good veterinary nursing can make a huge difference to the outcome and experience for both the animal and the client, we do great job and we need to tell the public.”