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RCVS/BVA guidance regarding 'key workers'
'It is not clear that veterinary surgeons working in companion animal practice can be considered key workers'.

Government has granted key worker status by sector rather than profession.

The RCVS and the BVA have released a joint statement regarding government guidance about who qualifies as 'key workers' in relation to the closure of schools.

The RCVS/BVA statement, which is published in full below, is intended to help veterinary surgeons decide whether or not they can claim ‘key worker’ status and ask for their children to continue to be taken into schools. It reminds veterinary surgeons to consider the wider societal picture, and ensure that they only claim ‘key worker’ status if absolutely necessary.

The statement in full is as follows:

Veterinary surgeons as key workers in relation to school closures

RCVS and BVA appreciate that veterinary surgeons will feel a great deal of uncertainty at the present time, and that many will be facing considerable difficulties due to the closure of schools for most pupils.

The official government advice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

The guidance emphasises that if children can be at home then they should be, in order to help to prevent the virus from spreading.

The government has granted key worker status by sector rather than profession. Some veterinary work will definitely fall into the ‘key worker’ category. RCVS and BVA are therefore providing some additional advice below, following consultation with the UK Chief Veterinary Officer.

Vets carrying out work linked to food production

Veterinary surgeons working in food production from ‘farm to fork’ are considered to be key workers. This includes:

  • Farm vets
  • Official Veterinarians working in the food chain, including abattoir and other related inspection and certification work.

Vets working in emergency care

The responsibility of the veterinary surgeon to take steps to provide 24-hour emergency first aid and pain relief to animals according to their skills and the specific situation continues, and veterinary practices will need to continue to carry out this work. It is important that animal owners are able to focus on their own health, and not need to worry about their pets. Veterinary surgeons who are providing this essential work can be considered key workers.
 
Other companion animal practice work

In light of the Government guidance published on 19 March it is not clear that veterinary surgeons working in companion animal practice can be considered key workers. Veterinary surgeons should consider the possibility of reputational damage to the profession if vets doing work which could be regarded as non-essential claim key worker status at this time, given that we are facing a public health emergency. Anyone doing so must be confident that their claim to key worker status is defensible.

Practices may need to rationalise their work and ultimately this must be a decision for individual veterinary surgeons and veterinary practices.

Summary

At this time the provision of public health and the maintenance of food production need to take priority, and veterinary surgeons working in these areas should be considered key workers.

Veterinary surgeons working in emergency care can also be considered key workers. This will not apply to every veterinary surgeon in clinical practice, and practices may need to consider rationalising their services to achieve this.

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BEVA gives vets access to free membership for three months

News Story 1
 BEVA has announced that it is cutting membership renewal charges for the next three months in order to support all veterinary professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memberships for all existing BEVA members will be extended until 30 June 2020. Veterinary professionals who are not members of BEVA will also be able to sign up for a free membership until 30 June 2020.

BEVA president Tim Mair said: "In this extraordinary time of global crisis our profession, as with many industries, is under immense pressure. By offering free membership we are giving equine vets easy access to a wealth of supportive resources and online CPD."

To sign up please visit the BEVA website.

Image (c) BEVA. 

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LOVE Gorgie Farm seeking veterinary volunteers

LOVE Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh is looking for people with veterinary and animal care experience, who would be interested in volunteering to help care for its animals during these difficult times.

The community-owned charity farm opened to the public only last month, but decided to close temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its three-person team is working to care for the animals behind the scenes and the farm is now operating as a food bank for the public, delivering free breakfasts to local school children.

In an effort to build a contingency plan to secure the welfare of its animals, LOVE Gorgie Farm is looking for volunteers who would be able to step in if any team members fell sick or needed to self-isolate.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact gorgie@l-o-v-e.org.uk