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Working in the UK

Following several enquiries from members wishing to work in the United Kingdom we contacted the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the governing body in Britain to seek clarification for those members.    Outlined below are some guidelines.

At this stage, until registration becomes formal, a New Zealand veterinary nurse is not a Listed Veterinary Nurse, regardless of whether qualified at Diploma level or Certificate level or where they graduated from.However an unlisted (overseas or UK trained) can be employed in a veterinary practice in the UK with the provision that no schedule 3 work is carried out. Therefore they will only be able to carry out the tasks equivalent to a person with no qualification.   A NZ Veterinary Nurse who wishes to work as a Listed Veterinary Nurse in the UK  can get information here. 

Reference for Veterinary Nurses trained outside the UK -Form C
Certificate of Good Standing Request to Professional Registration Authority -  Form D

A NZ Veterinary nurse who holds a Certificate in Veterinary Nursing is not eligible to be listed in the UK

A person on the List of Veterinary Nurses maintained by the RCVS in the UK is entitled to carry out the acts as detailed in Schedule 3. Information on this is available at http://www.rcvs.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/code-of-professional-conduct-for-veterinary-surgeons/supporting-guidance/delegation-to-veterinary-nurses/

A lay person or unlisted (including overseas) Veterinary Nurse cannot carry out these acts, and it illegal to do so. An overseas qualified Veterinary Nurse who wants to work as a Listed Veterinary Nurse in the UK must have their qualifications and experience assessed and compared as to the UK Veterinary Nursing course (fee of £80 = $240). This applies to all countries. The assessment will deem whether the person is eligible to apply for listing (another fee of £80), or will need to complete a component or all of the UK course.Each candidate is individually assessed as references are also included in the assessment.

For your information:

Schedule 3 was an amendment to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 which permitted Listed Veterinary Nurses to perform specified tasks under the Act. Those tasks may include:

  • Administering of “any medical treatment or any minor surgery (not involving entry into a body cavity)” under veterinary direction, to all species which are commonly kept as companion animals, including exotic species so kept. Unless they hold further qualification they are not qualified to treat the equine species, wild animals or farm animals.

Medical treatment and minor surgery

  • The Act does not define "any medical treatment or any minor surgery (not involving entry into a body cavity)". Ultimately it would be for the courts to decide what these words mean.
  • The procedures which veterinary nurses are specifically trained to carry out include the following:
    • administer medication by mouth, topically, by the rectum, by inhalation or by subcutaneous, intramuscular or intravenous injection;
    • administer other treatments, including oral, intravenous and subcutaneous rehydration, other fluid therapy, catheterisation, cleaning and dressing of surgical wounds, treatment of abscesses and ulcers, application of external casts, holding and handling of viscera when assisting in operations and cutaneous suturing;
    • prepare animals for anaesthesia and assist in the administration and termination of anaesthesia, including premedication, analgesia and intubation;
    • collect samples of blood, urine, faeces, skin and hair; and
    • take x-rays.

Guidance on anaesthesia

  • Particular care is needed over the administration of anaesthesia. A veterinary surgeon alone should:-
    • assess the fitness of the animal to undergo anaesthesia;
    • select and plan a suitable anaesthetic regime;
    • select any premedication; and<
    • administer anaesthetic if the induction dose is either incremental or to effect.
  • Provided the veterinary surgeon is physically present and immediately available for consultation, a listed veterinary nurse may:-
    • administer selected sedative, analgesic or other agents before and after the operation;
    • administer non-incremental anaesthetic agents on the instruction of the directing veterinary surgeon;
    • monitor clinical signs and maintain an anaesthetic record; and
    • maintain anaesthesia by administering supplementary incremental doses of intravenous anaesthetic agents or adjusting the delivered concentration of anaesthetic agents, under the direct instruction of the supervising veterinary surgeon.

It should be strenuously pointed out should you breach any of these Acts of Parliament whilst working overseas and carry out procedures for which you are not Listed then the veterinarian who allowed you to carry out these procedures can and will be struck from the legal register of veterinarians – as happened recently in England. Needless to say you will also be breaching the NZVNA Guide to Conduct. However working overseas is a great way to gain a great deal of experience in a relatively short time frame, act as a professional at all times and keep yourself safe and within the law. Have fun!

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