Published: 16 Aug 2016 | Last Updated: 16 Aug 2016 09:59:11

The Royal Veterinary College’s Equine and Small Animal Referral Hospitals are among the first in the UK to be assessed under the new Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) Awards, and have been designated as ‘Outstanding’ in all categories assessed to date.

PSS assessors attended the RVC recently to visit the Equine Referral Hospital and made a return visit to the Small Animal Referral Hospital, where they assessed the ‘Inpatient Service’. Equine was assessed for ‘Team and Professional Responsibility’ and its ‘Diagnostic Service’.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), which regulates the veterinary and veterinary nursing profession in the UK, introduced the PSS in 2005. It is a voluntary accreditation system that veterinary hospitals and practices choose to participate in.

The new Awards, launched last November, require everyone in the clinical team to be working and thinking to the highest possible standards, and for a hospital or practice to have a strong culture of continuous improvement. Assessment is based not only on a review of processes and documentation, but relies heavily on interviews with a wide range of team members to assess how these processes are actually put into practice, and how a practice learns from experience to improve.

RVC Vice Principal Graham Milligan said: “It’s particularly important that veterinary teaching hospitals strive to meet the highest standards for patient care and professionalism as we are responsible for developing the veterinary nurses, veterinary surgeons, and specialists of tomorrow. Our clinical teams are committed to providing the highest quality compassionate care, and the in-depth independent assessment provided by the RCVS assessor team has been a great opportunity for us to reflect on our current practices, and has been a really positive experience for everyone involved.

“No system is ever perfect, so a true team approach and learning from what goes well, and sometimes what doesn’t, is key to continuous improvement. It’s of particular credit to our teams that they are the first anywhere in the UK to receive awards for ‘Team and Professional Responsibility’”

The ‘Team and Professional Responsibility’ category included modules related to Clinical Governance, Infection Control, Medical Records, Medicines and the Practice Team. For Infection Control and Medical Records, the assessors gave the Equine Referral Hospital the maximum marks of 300 out of 300 and 280 out of 280 respectively. The Diagnostic Service category was split into modules related to Diagnostic Imaging and Laboratory and Clinical Pathology. The Equine Referral Hospital received 390 out of 390 for its Diagnostic Imaging provisions.

MRI reading at RVC Equine's Diagnostic service

Welcoming the PSS assessor team’s findings, Professor Josh Slater, Clinical Director of the Equine Referral Hospital, said: “This was a magnificent achievement gained through exceptional team work from everyone in the Equine Referral Hospital. The passion and commitment for excellent patient care, combined with glowing pride for the Hospital and the College, from everyone in the team shone through during the inspection and was, for me, a defining moment. We are looking forwards to the inspection visit for our next awards later this year.”

Dave Dixon, Practice Manager at RVC Equine, added: “Evaluating our processes against the new PSS and awards has been very beneficial for the whole equine team, allowing all equine staff to have a greater understanding and involvement in the process with a wide-ranging overview of what is required to maintain our standards, review and improve on what we currently do and to achieve the awards.”

The RVC Small Animal Referral service, which operates a 24/7 service from the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA), in Hertfordshire, is the only one currently to hold four awards and is also the first in the UK to receive the Emergency and Critical Care Service award.

In conclusion Graham Milligan added: “I know that some practices feel that there isn’t yet enough promotion of the awards by the RCVS to the public to justify the effort involved in going through the assessment process: for us the benefits have all been from participation, as it’s a proved to be a great way to for teams to work together towards a common goal of providing the best possible care.”

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Notes to Editors

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London. The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences, being ranked in the top 10 universities nationally for biosciences degrees.  It is currently the only veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.

A research-led institution, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF2014) the RVC maintained its position as the top HEFCE funded veterinary focused research institution.

The College also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals; the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in central London, the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre), the Equine Referral Hospital, and the Farm Animal Clinical Centre located at the Hertfordshire campus.


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