The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) has updated its code of professional conduct in relation to the matter of the provision of veterinary services to the public and the ownership of veterinary practices.

The update to the code of professional conduct (the code) follows a period of comprehensive consultation with stakeholders on the matter of corporate ownership of veterinary practices.

It outlines that the veterinary practitioner is the service provider and the clinical discretion of the veterinary practitioner is paramount, acting at all times in the interest of animal health, welfare and public health.

According to the VCI, the act is silent on ownership and consequently the council does not involve itself in ownership issues.

The council’s words updating the code clearly state that the veterinary practitioner provides the service to the public at and from a premises, certified by the council.

“Ownership bears no influence on veterinary services and on the provision of same,” the updated code states.

According to the VCI, “it has no statutory role or remit in relation to the ownership of veterinary practices”.

The VCI continues as always to use its statutory powers to ensure that the highest standards of clinical governance are employed in veterinary medicine within the state.

Certificate of suitability

A certificate of suitability (COS) is issued by the VCI to veterinary practitioners who wish to provide veterinary services at and from the premises to which the certificate relates.

A COS for the veterinary premises is required before any veterinary service to the public may begin at and from that premises and the COS is renewed on a four-year-cycle.

The regulations relating to that certificate are one of the means by which the VCI regulates veterinary services to the public.

Finally, according to the VCI, the COS for veterinary services involving the practice of veterinary medicine may only be held in the name of a registered veterinary practitioner.