Published: 18 Apr 2016 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 15:45:10

The small animal referral hospital at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has been assessed as 'Outstanding' by the Practice Standards Scheme (PSS), a quality assurance system designed to promote the highest standards of veterinary care.


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 Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA), on the Hawkshead campus near Potters Bar in Hertfordshire, is the largest veterinary referral hospital in Europe and it takes cases from across the UK. The hospital has historically excelled under the PSS but the introduction of new elements to enhance the scheme required a fresh evaluation by PSS assessors. The new scheme, launched last November, places greater emphasis on how practices and hospitals use their resources to create positive outcomes for patients and clients.

The PSS is led by the Practice Standards Group - a steering committee of representatives from all of the major veterinary and veterinary nursing organisations in the UK. Following visits from five RCVS assessors, the QMHA received the highest possible designation of 'Outstanding' in the key areas of 'Team and Professional Responsibility', the 'Diagnostic Service' and 'Emergency and Critical Care Service'. The awards were based not only on an evaluation of processes and documentation but also on interviews with a large number of the hospital team.

In their report sent to the RVC, the PSS assessors were very positive about the QMHA facilities and standard of care, stating: “The Queen Mother Hospital is a world-recognised teaching and referral hospital with state-of-the-art facilities. We found that they also have a committed and enthusiastic team that make the hospital run so well. The RVC has obviously worked incredibly hard to pass all three of these awards at Outstanding, which was very well deserved. The help and support given to us on the day showed the commitment that the RVC had made to these awards. The RVC should be very proud of themselves, they were just brilliant.”

They also stated: “Everyone was very open and answered our questions enthusiastically. There was definitely a real team spirit and it was superb to see such happy and willing people.” Within the Emergency and Critical Care Service element of the assessment, the key areas of in-patient care, nursing care and pain management received a mark of 100%. The assessors said: “The Emergency and Critical Care department was impressive. Well run with sympathetic attention paid to clients and patients at a difficult time despite the size of the unit.”

After hearing of the Outstanding designations, Holger Volk, Clinical Director of the QMHA and Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, said: “There have been few moments in my life I have been prouder to be part of the RVC’s small animal referral team. Their never-ending passion to provide compassionate care around the clock care every day of the year, working within the most rigorous professional framework, has been referenced by the RCVS as 'Outstanding' in all the categories assessed.”  

He added: “We continuously thrive for better for our patients, leading by example to be the best possible role model for our students, colleagues and the veterinary profession.”

Dan Brockman, Professor of Small Animal Surgery and Head of Clinical Sciences and Services said: “For all of us who work in the QMHA, it will come as no surprise that we have achieved such genuinely outstanding endorsement of the procedures, processes and protocols that underpin the excellent clinical care that is compassionately delivered through this clinical facility. This massive team has everyone playing to their strengths and delivers excellence across the board. These awards were not bestowed because we excelled “on the day” but because we excel every day! I am immensely proud of what the QMHA team achieve on a daily basis and these awards are no more than what is deserved. Well done everyone and thank you.”

Graham Milligan, Vice Principal with responsibility for RVC Clinical Services, added: “I am delighted that our teaching hospital has been recognised with these new RCVS Practice Standards Awards, which we go well beyond the existing accreditation scheme. Our teams are committed to providing the highest standards of care to their patients every day, so we are particularly pleased to be recognised as 'Outstanding' in all three categories that we were assessed under. The awards reflect our commitment not only to clients and patients, but also to modelling the highest standards of professionalism and care to our students.”

Press Office Contact

Uche Graves / Zoe White
T: 0800 368 9520
E: /

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 RVC 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.

RVC Press Release 18 April 2016

See other Press Releases.

You may also be interested in:

Top of page