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Royal college of veterinary surgeons

Royal college of veterinary surgeons



Royal college

Granting of the Coat of Arms

1844 -RCVS was formed after the Royal Charter was granted. Veterinary practice became a profession distinguished by the title "veterinary surgeon". Thomas Turner was the first President of the RCVS, from 1844-1851

1844 - Granting of the Coat of Arms

1881 - The first Veterinary Surgeons Act was passed which confirmed the Charters and authorised the establishment of a Register and imposed certain restrictions on unauthorised people

1914 - Further Royal Charters were granted

1920 - The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1881 Amendment Act imposed an annual fee of £1 and 1s on all members practising in the UK

1922 - Aleen Cust became the first woman to become an MRCVS

1948 - The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1948 set up the current system under which veterinary degrees awarded by UK universities may be recognised. The degrees of the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and London were recognised

 Thomas Turner

Thomas Turner, 
first President of the RCVS,
1844 to 1851

1949 - A Supplementary Veterinary Register was set up for existing practitioners who did not hold relevant formal qualifications
1952 - On her accession to the throne, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II granted her patronage to the RCVS

1966 - The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 consolidated and updated all previous legislation

1967 - Supplemental Charter revoked all the previous Supplemental Charters. It restated and consolidated provision of the previous Charters which were not covered by the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966

1994 - The RCVS celebrates its 150th anniversary with a wide range of events under the Charter 150 banner

1999 -  Council voted to allow lay people to sit as observers with its Preliminary Investigation Committee

About RCVS

The role of the RCVS is to safeguard the health and welfare of animals committed to veterinary care through the regulation of the educational, ethical and clinical standards of veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, thereby protecting the interests of those dependent on animals, and assuring public health. It also acts as an impartial source of informed opinion on relevant veterinary matters.

In effect the RCVS is made up of three distinct organisations:

The RCVS as a statutory regulator - undertaking the statutory responsibilities set out in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 - to maintain a register of veterinary surgeons eligible to practise in the UK; to regulate veterinary education and to regulate professional conduct;

The RCVS as 'a Royal College' - exercising powers under the Royal Charter to award Fellowships, Diplomas and Certificates to veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and others, and to act as an informed and impartial source of opinion on veterinary matters;

RCVS Trust - a separate charity established to promote and advance the study and practice of the art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine - by providing the RCVS Library and Information Service and a range of grants largely to support educational and research activities.

The RCVS was established in 1844 by Royal Charter (see RCVS History) to be the governing body of the veterinary profession. Its statutory duties are currently laid out in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. The RCVS safeguards the interests of the public and animals by ensuring that only those registered with the RCVS can carry out acts of veterinary surgery.

In order to carry out its statutory duties a Council of 40 Members governs the RCVS and meets three times a year.

The breakdown of members is as follows:
  • 24 members: elected to Council by the profession itself (in May of each year - results 2006)
  • 12 members: 2 each nominated to Council by each of the six UK Veterinary Schools
  • 4 members: appointed by the Privy Council

Council is supported by a system of Committees. RCVS policy issues put forward by working parties or the secretariat go first to Committees for recommendation and, if recommended, on to Council for approval or rejection.
The terms of reference are laid out in the General Administration Bye-Laws 2009 (PDF 118Kb). Some decisions are delegated to Committees, but Council does receive reports of all Committees.
The President, Senior Vice-President, Junior Vice-President and Treasurer are elected by Council from its number. Together with the Registrar, they form a team of Officers and have the main responsibility for running the RCVS.

Full table of Council and Committee members (July 2007 to July 2008)
Preliminary Investigation Committee
  • Dr Jerry Davies
  • Mr Mark Elliott (Vice-Chairman)
  • Mr Peter Jinman
  • Mrs Jill Nute (Chairman)
  • Professor Stuart Reid
  • Professor Sandy Trees
  • + 3 Lay Observers
Advisory Committee
  • Dr R (Bertie) Ellis
  • Mr Chris Gray
  • Mrs Andrea Jeffery
  • Dr R (Bob) Moore (Chairman)
  • Mr R (Bob) Partridge
  • Mrs Clare Tapsfield-Wright (Vice-Chairman)
  • Mrs Lynn Turner
  • Mr John Walmsley
Disciplinary Committee
  • Dr Christopher Chesney
  • Mrs Beverley Cottrell (Vice-Chairman)
  • Professor Sheila Crispin (Vice-Chairman)
  • Mr Richard Davis
  • Mrs Caroline Freedman (Chairman)
  • Mrs Catherine Goldie
  • Mr Charles Gruchy
  • Professor Peter LeesMiss 
  • Miss Christine Shield
  •  Mr Richard Stephenson

Public Affairs Committee
  • Revd Anthony Birbeck 
  •  Mrs Alison Bruce 
  •  Mr David Catlow 
  •  Professor Sheila Crispin 
  • Mr Roger Eddy 
  • Mr Nigel Gibbens 
  • Mrs Catherine Goldie 
  • Mrs Lynne Hil (Chairman) 
  • Dr Barry Johnson 
  • Professor Duncan Maskell 
  • Dr Bob Moore 
  • Mrs Jill Nute 
  • Mr Bob Partridge 
  • Mr Richard Stephenson (Vice-Chairman) 
  • Mr Chris Tufnell 
  • + 4 RCVS Officers
Education Policy & Specialisation Committee 
  • Professor Malcolm Bennett 
  • Dr Christopher Chesney 
  • Mrs Beverley Cottrell 
  • Professor Gary England (non-Council Observer) 
  • Professor Michael Herrtage (Vice-Chairman) 
  • Mrs Lynne Hill 
  • Professor Quintin McKellar 
  • Mr Bob Partridge 
  • Professor Jo Price 
  • Professor Stuart Reid (Chairman) 
  • Mr Christopher Tufnell 
  • Professor Elaine Watson
Planning and Resources Committee
  • Miss Liz Branscombe (VN Council Chairman) 
  • Dr Jerry Davies (Vice-Chairman) 
  • Dr Bertie Ellis 
  • Mrs Caroline Freedman (Disciplinary Chairman) 
  • Professor Christopher Gaskell (Co-opted Member) 
  • Mr Chris Gray 
  • Mrs Lynne Hill (Public Affairs Chairman) 
  • Mr Peter Jinman (President) 
  • Dr Barry Johnson 
  • Dr Robert Moore (Advisory Chairman) 
  • Mrs Jill Nute(Preliminary Investigation and RCVS Trust Chairman) 
  • Professor Stuart Reid (Education, Policy and Specialisation Chairman) 
  • Colonel Neil Smith 
  • Professor Sandy Trees (Senior Vice President) 
  • Mr Bradley Viner (Chairman)
VN Council
Veterinary Nurses
  • Miss Elizabeth Branscombe (Chairman) 
  • Mrs Dorothy Creighton  
  • Mrs Louise Glysen 
  • Mrs Andrea Jeffrey 
  • Mrs Katherine Kissick (Vice-Chairman) 
  • Miss Suzanne May 
  • Miss Hilary Orpet 
  • Ms Jenny Thompson
Veterinary Surgeons
  • Dr Jerry Davies (RCVS Council) 
  • Mr Richard Hooker (non-RCVS Council) 
  • Mr Alan Hughes (non-RCVS Council) 
  • Mrs Jacqui Molyneux (Vice-Chairman) 
  • Mrs Jill Nute (RCVS Council) 
  • Mr Chris House  (Lantra Industry Group (Professions Allied to Veterinary Science))
Lay Members
  • Revd Tony Birbeck (Lay member) 
  • Mrs Penny Swindlehurst (Lay member)
Non-voting Observers
  • (BVNA appointee) 
  • (BSAVA appointee)

The Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966)
As a statutory regulator, the RCVS undertakes the responsibilities set out in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 - to maintain a register of veterinary surgeons eligible to practise in the UK; to regulate veterinary education and to regulate professional conduct.
Download a copy* of the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966) (including any amendments as at Aug 2010) (PDF file - 263Kb)
*Reproduced by permission of Reed Elsevier (UK) Limited, trading as LexisNexis UK, who are copyright owners and original publishers of this material.

The Royal Charter (1967)

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons was established by a Royal Charter of 1844. This is still in force to the extent that it incorporated the College and recognised "the veterinary art" as a profession, but other provisions of the 1844 Charter have been superseded by the Supplemental Charter of 1967.
The Charter regulates certain aspects of the management of the College's affairs and gives it power to award Fellowships, Diplomas and Certificates to veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, and others engaged in "veterinary science and its auxiliary sciences".
A copy of the Supplemental Royal Charter (1967) may be downloaded below. 
Royal Charter (PDF file - 68Kb)
Royal Charter (Word file - 49Kb)
Royal Charter (RTF file - 60Kb)



We quality assure undergraduate veterinary education and, under our Charter, offer postgraduate qualifications for both vets and veterinary nurses.

We also stipulate the amount of continuing professional development (CPD) that must be carried out.

Find out about our veterinary school visitations, postgraduate qualifications and CPD requirements, including the Professional Development Phase.

The veterinary profession

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is the governing body of the profession in the United Kingdom.

Under the provisions of the Veterinary Surgeons Act of 1966, with certain minor exceptions, only a registered veterinary surgeon is permitted to diagnose and treat the injuries and ailments of animals.

To train to be a veterinary surgeon you will need to go to university and take a veterinary degree.

The universities in the UK offering veterinary degrees approved by the RCVS are Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, London (the Royal Veterinary College) and Nottingham.

The degree courses are five years in length (six years at some schools).

There are also a number of overseas degrees which are approved by RCVS: in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Graduates from North American veterinary schools accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association can also apply to become members of the RCVS.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for vets

The RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons makes it very clear that veterinary surgeons have a responsibility to ensure that they maintain and develop the knowledge and skills relevant to their professional practice and competence. The Code also requires veterinary surgeons to provide the RCVS with their CPD records when requested to do so. CPD is the personal obligation of all responsible veterinary surgeons and should be seen as the continuous progression of capability and competence.

The recommended minimum CPD is 105 hours over a rolling three year period with an average of 35 hours per year. It is appreciated that most veterinary surgeons will do considerably more than this.


The Professional Development Record for recording CPD

RCVS’s new online system for veterinary surgeons – the Professional Development Record (the PDR) - is now available for recording CPD activities and events. It provides more facilities than are available on the printed card, and allows vets to record and reflect on their professional development plans and objectives.

For more information, and to access the PDR to record CPD, click on the link in the left hand menu.

For those who would prefer to record CPD using the more traditional CPD card, the 2012 RCVS CPD Record Card is available to download from the 'Related documents' box, right.

The updated RCVS CPD Policy Document is also available to download from the 'Related documents' box, right.


Postgraduate education for veterinary surgeons


The RCVS offers a variety of qualifications for qualified veterinary surgeons. You can read more about these options by selecting a link from the drop-down menu on the left.


Certificate and Diploma Examinations 2012

Closing date for entry to all examinations is Thursday, 1 March 2012


The dates for the written examinations are as follows:


Tuesday, 3 July 2012 at the Emmanuel Centre, London SW1.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at the Emmanuel Centre, London SW1. Exact arrangements for your subject will be confirmed once we have the final number of candidates proceeding past section (a) of the examination.


Clinical, orals and practical

Candidates will receive confirmation following the written examinations.

Note to all candidates: Please ensure that the RCVS holds your current contact address











Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry, please e-mail the appropriate department. Contact details for each department are supplied below. For more general enquiries about the RCVS or if you are not sure which department to e-mail, please complete the short enquiry form. For comments on the website, please complete our feedback form.

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Belgravia House 
62-64 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 2AF

Tel: (020) 7222 2001 
Fax: (020) 7222 2004 

Departmental Contact Details

Communications Department
Media, Government and public relations as well as congresses, regional meetings, publications (including the Annual Report, RCVS News) corporate communications and website.
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0727

Corporate Services
For information on the Register, Directory of Practices, purchase of publications 
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0762

Issues of undergraduate and postgraduate education e.g. Certificates and Diplomas, Specialists, CPD and Visitations
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0791 or go to Education Department contacts

Facilities Management
For information on room bookings and catering 
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0726

For RCVS finances
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0723

Membership and registration queries, changes of details and certificates of good standing 
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0739

President's/Registrar's Department
Matters relating to the President and Registrar, RCVS Council and RCVS Day 
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0761

Professional Conduct
Matters relating to complaints, disciplinary and preliminary investigation issues, requests for advice, veterinary hospitals and riding establishments approval 
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0789

RCVS Trust Library
For enquiries relating to book loans, database searches, historical collections, information services 
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0752

RCVS Trust
For all enquiries relating to the RCVS Trust 
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0741

Veterinary Nursing
For all matters relating to Veterinary Nursing and VNACs 
Email: Telephone: 020 7202 0788 or go to VN Department contacts

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