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RCVS Council approves Government plans for non-vets to support animal product certification

05 November 2018, at 9:45am

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Council has approved changes to the supporting guidance that underpins its Code of Professional Conduct to allow for non-veterinarians to support veterinary surgeons in the certification of products of animal origin for export.

The plans developed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), an agency of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), involved the creation of a new role of Certification Support Officers (CSOs), non-veterinarians who would support the work of Official Veterinarians (OVs) in the signing of export health certificates for products of animal origin such as meat, dairy, processed products and animal by-products.

The proposals for the creation of CSOs by APHA has arisen due to concerns about the growth of exports in recent years and the potential for an up to 300% increase in products requiring OV certification if the UK has to certify exports of products of animal origin to the EU once the UK leaves the EU. Under APHA’s plans CSOs will work under the direction of veterinary surgeons and support their certification work (for example, verifying temperature checks), although the final certification will always need to be signed by OVs. The role will not involve certification relating to live animals or germinal products.

At the RCVS Council meeting on Thursday 1 November 2018 Council members agreed to facilitate APHA’s proposals and to make changes to the RCVS requirements so as to allow CSOs to support OVs in their certification work.

Amanda Boag, RCVS President, said: “As we have stated in our recent statement on ‘no-deal’ Brexit, it has been estimated that there would be 325% increase in veterinary certification requirements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and with these proposals Defra and APHA are preparing for this by increasing the support available for Official Veterinarians. Furthermore the proposal is in line with the concept of a vet-led team, with veterinary surgeons focusing on tasks only vets can do, whilst delegating some tasks to suitably trained and quality-assured members of our teams.

“We appreciate that there were some concerns over the level of education and training required by CSOs and are glad that the APHA has accommodated those views by increasing the level of education to three A-Levels (or equivalent in Scotland) and clarifying the nature of the training required by CSOs.

“By signalling its support for the proposals, RCVS Council has been assured that the integrity and value of the veterinary signature will be upheld and we are glad that we can play a key role in helping the veterinary profession prepare the UK for leaving the EU.”

The RCVS position statement on the potential impact of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario is available atwww.rcvs.org.uk/brexit