Practice Standards Scheme

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) provides a form of quality assurance for those who entrust their animals into the care of veterinary surgeons.

The RCVS regulates the profession to ensure that members of the public and their animals are able to obtain veterinary services from veterinary surgeons who are properly qualified and conduct themselves in a professional manner.

All veterinary surgeons wishing to practise in the UK must be registered members. You may have noticed that veterinary surgeons have the initials ‘MRCVS’ after their names.This stands for member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), and indicates their registration with the RCVS, the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the UK.

The title ‘veterinary surgeon’ is protected in law: only those who are registered with the RCVS can use the title.

The RCVS also awards qualifications to, and regulates, veterinary nurses on a Register. All the nurses in our team have the initials ‘RVN’ after their names.The title ‘veterinary nurse’, and the letters ‘RVN’, should only be used by those who have completed an approved veterinary nurse training course and are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the regulatory body for veterinary nursing. Registered veterinary nurses are accountable for their professional practice, and must follow the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses. They also keep their skills and knowledge up to date by means of continuing professional development.

The RCVS also offers reassurance to pet owners through the Practice Standards Scheme by assuring that those practice premises which they accredit as part of the Practice Standards Scheme, meet stringent standards.

Around 65% of the UK’s practice premises are accredited under the voluntary Practice Standards Scheme.

RCVS assessors visit practices in the Scheme every four years to ensure that their facilities meet the standards associated with their category of accreditation.

What is the Practice Standards Scheme?

The RCVS Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) is a voluntary initiative to accredit veterinary practices in the UK.

Through setting standards and carrying out regular assessments, the Scheme aims to promote and maintain the highest standards of veterinary care.

It offers peace of mind to clients of accredited practices and a more informed choice to the animal-owning public.

To become accredited, practices volunteer for rigorous assessment every four years and will have met a range of minimum standards including hygiene, 24-hour emergency cover, staff training, certain types of equipment and cost estimation procedures. Practices are also subject to spot-checks between assessments.

We are very proud that Cat’s Whiskers has been awarded RCVS General Practice – small animals.

To be accredited as an RCVS General Practice, a veterinary practice must satisfy the Core Standards, plus, amongst other things, must:

  • Have a system for monitoring the outcome of treatments
  • Show ongoing commitment to education and training of staff
  • Keep premises clean and well maintained
  • Have a policy for communicating with clients and looking at feedback
  • Have access to laboratory facilities for diagnostic testing.

To be accredited to Core Standards, a veterinary practice must, among other things:

  • Put in place arrangements for 24-hour emergency cover for patients (this might be done by the practice itself, or through arrangements with another practice or emergency service provider)
  • Have appropriately trained staff for work undertaken (veterinary qualifications and insurance are checked)
  • Comply with minimum standards of cleanliness and hygiene
  • Make clients aware of arrangements for checking and monitoring patients kept in overnight
  • Ensure clients are given estimates of costs of treatments and consent to procedures undertaken
  • Have basic diagnostic and surgical equipment for the work undertaken – these must be installed and maintained in accordance with health and safety requirements
  • Have an effective policy for communication with clients

Link to RCVS website for more details:

RCVS Accredited Practice