The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the United Kingdom, established in 1844 by royal charter. It is responsible for monitoring the educational, ethical and clinical standards of the veterinary profession. Anyone wishing to practice as a vet in the United Kingdom must be registered with the RCVS.
Anyone who wishes to practice as a vet in the United Kingdom must first register with the RCVS. Eligibility for registration is based either on having a recognised qualification or by passing the RCVS statutory membership examination. After registration, the vet is entitled to use the letters MRCVS (Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) or FRCVS (Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) after their name.
During the ceremony of admission to the RCVS, members make a declaration:
I PROMISE AND SOLEMNLY DECLARE that I will pursue the work of my profession with integrity and accept my responsibilities to the public, my clients, the profession and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and that, ABOVE ALL, my constant endeavour will be to ensure the health and welfare of animals committed to my care.
The 1844 charter regulates particular aspects of the college's management of its affairs and gives it the power to award fellowships, diplomas and certificates to veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, and others engaged in "veterinary science and its auxiliary sciences".
The statutory duties of the RCVS are laid out in the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.
The regulatory role of the RCVS has always meant that members of the public could rest assured that their individual vet is properly qualified and fit to practise, and now the same assurance can apply to practice premises. The RCVS Practice Standards Scheme is a voluntary initiative to accredit veterinary practices in the UK. Through setting standards and carrying out regular inspections, the Scheme aims to promote and maintain the highest standards of veterinary care.
RCVS Accredited practices are able to display the RCVS accredited practice logo, which indicates that the practice has undergone a rigorous, independent inspection and various minimum standards have been met.
In order to carry out its statutory duties a council of 33 members governs the RCVS and meets eight times a year. The President, vice-presidents (two), and Treasurer are elected by Council and together with the Chief Executive and Head of Legal Services/Registrar, form a team of officers who have the main responsibility for running the RCVS.