Veterinary Nurse Council agrees to EU vet registration post-Brexit changes

The Veterinary Nurses (VN) Council, part of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has agreed changes to how it will register veterinary nurses who qualified in the European Economic Area (EEA) should the UK depart the EU without a deal on March 29.

Changes to the registration process for veterinary nurses educated in EEA were discussed at the most recent meeting of VN Council on Wednesday 6 February 2019 with the proposals suggesting a closer alignment of the process for EEA applicants to that which exists for applicants from outside the EEA.

Under current rules, EEA applicants who have a veterinary nursing qualification that differs significantly from the minimum level of competencies and skills outlined in the RCVS Day One Skills and Competencies for veterinary nurses are able to join the register by choosing to complete either a period of supervised adaptation for up to three years or passing the RCVS pre-registration examination.

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Non-EEA applicants in a similar situation would be more likely to have their application rejected outright, with all other non-EEA applicants required to pass the pre-registration examination which is held three times a year.


EEA applicants will continue to be able to apply for permission to work in a veterinary practice while preparing for the examination. Where there is significant differences in content and scope then these applications will be rejected. The option to make up any deficient areas while working in practice will no longer be available in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Holders of qualifications accredited by the Accreditation Committee for Veterinary Nurse Education (ACOVENE) will continue to have direct access to the Register as its accreditation criteria is based on UK standards. Currently all UK veterinary nurse course providers in both further and higher education are ACOVENE accredited as well as five educational establishments in the Republic of Ireland and in Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Norway and Portugal.

The colleges proposals were accepted by the VN Council, with Julie Dugmore, RCVS director of veterinary nursing, said: “It is important to remember that the numbers of non-UK EEA veterinary nurses who join the register each year is much lower than for veterinary surgeons – normally being somewhere between 40 to 60 individuals each year, the majority of whom have qualified on an ACOVENE accredited veterinary nursing course.

“We will continue to welcome applications from those holding other EEA and non-EEA qualifications. If we depart the EU without a deal will be able to introduce more flexibility when deciding whether applicants should be accepted, rejected or accepted on condition of passing the pre-registration examination. This will be based on how well aligned their education and clinical experience is with our registration criteria.”

The decision was made by VN Council on the day that the House of Lords passed a statutory instrument that would, similarly, allow the RCVS to continue to register EEA veterinary surgeons with qualifications accredited by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE) after the UK leaves the EU.

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