Inspections: will all practices be treated equally? - Veterinary Practice
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Inspections: will all practices be treated equally?

There are to be two inspectorates for practices after the VMD’s registration and inspection regulations come into effect on 1st April.

Although the RCVS will keep the register of premises, the College inspectorate will check only those practices which belong to the practice standards scheme (PSS) and the VMD’s animal medicines’ inspectorate will inspect the rest.

The VMD does not yet know how many premises this will involve – it is likely to be well over 1,000 – but its aim is to inspect them all within four years – by April 2013. The information gained from these inspections will be used to determine what it calls the risk-based frequency of subsequent inspections.

The VMD expects to agree an inspection protocol with the RCVS so that all practices will be inspected against the same requirements. The protocol will be published once it has been formalised. This information emerged during an open forum held by the VMD last month.

It also became clear that the VMD has not yet decided how it will handle premises in Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Northern Ireland comes under the RCVS but non members of the PSS could come under a pan-Irish structure, such as that already in place for numerous other organisations and institutions. Alternatively, inspections could be handled by the Department of Agriculture Northern Ireland. The system of merchant premises registration has been handled that way in Northern Ireland since the start of the former PML system.

Then there is the question of the Isle of Man, which is an internally self-governing dependent territory of the Crown which is not part of the United Kingdom.

And what of the Channel Islands? These are not part of the United Kingdom, except for defence and foreign affairs. They are dependencies of the Crown and ruled by the Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland directly (Sark is just entering a democratic era!). They do not send representatives to Parliament in London but have their own Parliaments in Jersey, Guernsey and Sark. The islands are the only remains of the Duchy of Normandy still in the possession of the English crown.

The VMD has clearly not yet thought through the implications and there could be interesting constitutional repercussions if there is any attempt to impose the same rules on veterinary practices based there which are not in the PSS. The £40 registration fee will certainly not cover the inspection costs involved.

At the same time practices in Great Britain may feel somewhat aggrieved if their veterinary colleagues across the water(s) are dealt with in a different manner.

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