The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI), the independent statutory body responsible for the regulation of the practice of veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing in the Republic of Ireland, and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the equivalent regulatory body in the United Kingdom, have today issued a joint statement on the registration protocol for veterinary practitioners and the recognition of each other’s accredited veterinary degrees once the transition period arrangements between the UK and the EU end on 1 January 2021.
To carry out the practice of veterinary medicine, a veterinary practitioner must be registered in the jurisdiction in which they are practising i.e. a veterinary practitioner who practises veterinary medicine in the Republic of Ireland must be registered with the VCI and likewise, a veterinary surgeon who practises in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland or Wales, must be registered with the RCVS.
EU Directive 2005/36EC enables a veterinary practitioner who is lawfully established and registered in an EU member state to provide services on a temporary and occasional basis in another member state. This service allows registered veterinary practitioners to occasionally practise in other countries in the European Union for short periods, up to a maximum of 30 days per year. From 1 January 2021, the Directive will no longer apply to practitioners from the Republic of Ireland who may want to provide veterinary services in the UK, nor to UK based practitioners who may wish to provide veterinary services in the Republic of Ireland. These practitioners would therefore need to be registered with the relevant regulatory body in the country they are visiting, be it the RCVS or VCI, even if the provision of these services is temporary and occasional.
On 31 October 2019, a Mutual Qualification Recognition Agreement between the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Veterinary Council of Ireland was signed by the President of the VCI and the President of RCVS. This Agreement was enacted to facilitate the mutual recognition of programmes of veterinary medicine education between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, in the context of the UK-EU transition period ending on 31 December 2020. This was done to ensure continued accessibility for veterinary practitioners seeking registration in the Republic of Ireland and the UK.
The Mutual Qualification Recognition Agreement was the first agreement of its kind signed on a bilateral basis between the United Kingdom and another country in the European Economic Area (EEA). This agreement means that the degree in veterinary medicine from University College Dublin can be recognised by the RCVS and the current eight RCVS-recognised UK veterinary medicine degrees can be recognised by the VCI. The recognised qualifications are accepted as the basis for registration to practise veterinary surgery by the RCVS in the United Kingdom and veterinary medicine by the VCI in the Republic of Ireland.
The VCI and the RCVS wish to emphasise that regardless of whether or not a trade agreement has been signed between the EU and the UK by 1 January 2021, this will have no bearing on the Mutual Qualification Recognition Agreement currently in place. The option remains open to any veterinary practitioner with a recognised qualification in veterinary medicine from UCD or an accredited programme in the UK to apply to register in the other jurisdiction. It is hoped that the Mutual Qualification Recognition Agreement will assist veterinary practitioners qualifying from Ireland and the United Kingdom in ensuring their ability to register and practise in the other country where they wish to do so.
VCI & RCVS collaboration continues
The VCI and the RCVS continue to enjoy a strong relationship and will continue to collaborate on matters of common interest, in the interests of animal health and welfare, the veterinary professions and public health.
Niamh Muldoon, CEO and Registrar of the Veterinary Council of Ireland, said: “We would like to thank the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for their collaboration in developing this Mutual Qualification Recognition Agreement, which will significantly benefit veterinary practitioners in both the UK and Ireland. This historic agreement will enable graduates of Irish and UK veterinary schools to continue to seek to practise in the other country when they wish. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our colleagues in the RCVS in the future for the benefit of the profession in both countries.”
Mandisa Greene, President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons said: “I am very glad to be able to affirm our continuing working partnership with our friends and colleagues in the Republic of Ireland. We know that veterinary surgeons based both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have clients and undertake work on both sides of the border, and this Mutual Recognition Agreement will help to ensure that UK and Ireland-qualified veterinary surgeons are able to register in each other’s jurisdictions where required. I too look forward to continuing to work closely with the VCI both on a bilateral basis, and via pan-European institutions such as the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe.”