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Veterinary Council welcomes new bill

Veterinary Council welcomes new bill

Wellington, 1 February 2005

The Veterinary Council of New Zealand has welcomed the tabling in Parliament of the new Veterinarians Bill. The Veterinary Council implements the Veterinarians Act 1994 by registering veterinarians, setting standards for veterinary practice and considering complaints against veterinarians.

“This new Bill will bring the legislation that regulates the veterinary profession into line with that governing other professionals such as doctors and teachers, as well as assisting the Council to meet its responsibilities under TTMRA . We welcome the Bill, particularly the opportunity to undertake a competency assessment of a veterinarian” said the Chairperson of the Veterinary Council Ron Gibson.

“At the moment the tools available to the Council to deal with professional competence are complaint investigations and judicial hearings. It is hoped that the addition of the competency assessment will provide a rehabilitative process to assist (but also require when needed) veterinarians, whose standard of practice has slipped below the general standard, to lift their level of skills and knowledge. The Medical Council has been able to use competency assessment as a tool for the last five years with considerable success,” he said.

The Bill will also give the Council more self-regulatory powers, including being able to set the minimum standards for veterinary practice in New Zealand and some flexibility in considering registrations from overseas graduates. It allows graduates with four-year veterinary degrees to sit the national challenge examination (currently a five year requirement). This will bring the Council’s registration policy in line with general Australasian policy. The Bill also allows for ‘limited registration’ which gives the Council some flexibility in registering veterinarians from overseas who might not immediately be eligible for registration but whose skills/experience are sufficient for them to work under limitations such as time and place.

Other changes include an increase in the fines that the Council can impose, the ability for the Council to set its own fees, and restructures the Council’s judicial committee to include an experienced barrister or solicitor.

There are around 2,100 veterinarians currently registered in New Zealand. Two thirds of them work in clinical practice with the remainder working in a range of areas such as verifying and monitoring the health status of animals in the food production process, working in biosecurity, research, the animal health and pharmaceutical industries, and teaching.

Of those involved in clinical practice over a third work solely with companion animals (cats, dogs, birds). Another third work with both companion and production animals, whilst around 15% work solely with production animals (cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry).

ENDS


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