The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) carried out a consultation on the topic of telemedicine at the start of this year.

The consultation included a survey, conducted by Amárach Research, of relevant stakeholders, the VCI told Agriland.

A spokesperson for the VCI confirmed that the consultation took place between January and February.

The results of the consultation will be used by the VCI to inform a review of its Code of Professional Conduct, which is currently underway.

Telemedicine survey

While not a public survey, the groups surveyed were diverse in nature, according to the VCI.

The consultation included vets, vet nurses, farming representative bodies, welfare groups, Bord Bia, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, and others.

The VCI’s review of its Code of Professional Conduct is currently ongoing and it is anticipated that the review will be concluded, following a public consultation, by the end of the year.

Telemedicine as it relates to veterinary medicine, is the provision of veterinary health-related services and information through the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies, including video communication.

Veterinary queries

In 2019, following queries from vets, the VCI – which regulates and manages the practice of veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing in the the public interest – clarified its position on telemedicine at that time.

Then, it stated that vets were not allowed to diagnose or treat an animal without a physical examination.

While it may be used to triage a case, or to provide general advice or knowledge to a client, the VCI confirmed that it it could not replace a farm call-out

The VCI was not in a position to comment further to Agriland regarding a change in that position.

It said:

“As this [review] process is currently taking place, the Veterinary Council of Ireland is not in a position to comment further on the topic.”