7 April 2020
By Mary Bermingham
The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI), the statutory body responsible for the regulation and management of the practise of veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing in the state, has published its annual report for 2019.
2019 saw an increase in the number of veterinary practitioners and veterinary nurses joining the VCI Register. The total number of veterinary practitioners increased to 2,907 by year end, up from 2818 at the end of the previous year. The total number of veterinary nurses increased to 1,038 by year end, up from 935 in 2018. The number of certified veterinary practice premises increased to 765, up from 748 the previous year.
The number of registered veterinary practitioners exceeded 2900 for the first time since the establishment of the Council’s Register.
Niamh Muldoon, Registrar and Chief Executive of the Veterinary Council of Ireland said “2019 was a landmark year for the Veterinary Council. We now have the highest number of vets ever in Ireland, showing the opportunities available in the veterinary professions and the robust health of the industry. There are many challenges still ahead of us in 2020 and beyond, and we look forward to working with our registrants to meet them head on”.
2019 saw a number of major developments for the Veterinary Council, including:
- The appointment of a new Registrar and Chief Executive, Niamh Muldoon, in April 2019
- The Council launched its corporate strategy for 2019-2023, taking into account feedback from registrants and stakeholders
- The Council established a mutual recognition agreement with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, allowing for vets who qualify in Ireland to practise in Britain following its departure from the EU
- The commission of a report by Grant Thornton into the issue of corporate ownership of veterinary practices, taking into account stakeholder feedback and legal advice
- Following this, The Council’s Code of Professional Conduct was updated to reflect that the Veterinary Council has no legal role in the ownership of Veterinary Practices
- The Council hosted a stand at the National Ploughing Championships for the first time
- The Council held an election for four Veterinary Practitioner seats at the Council table in October. The successful candidates were: Mr Séamus (James Kevin) McManus, Mr Patrick Gerard Cusack, Mr Arthur O’Connor, and Mr Ian Fleming.
The Council received 32 applications for inquiries into fitness to practise in 2019. This is an increase on 2018, in which 28 complaints were received. Each complaint is investigated by the Council’s Preliminary Investigation Committee, which decides whether there is sufficient cause to warrant further action being taken. The Committee determined and concluded 28 out of the 32 cases received. Four of these cases remain under investigation and the outcome will be determined in 2020. Notably, 65% of complaints received in 2019 related to cats and dogs.
Of the 28 complaints concluded by the Council’s Preliminary Investigation Committee in 2019, two of the complaints were determined to warrant fitness to practise inquiries. An additional complaint made in late 2018 was also referred to inquiry in early 2019. The final outcome of these cases has not yet been determined by the Council.
Joe Moffitt, President of the Veterinary Council of Ireland said “The Veterinary Council remains resolute in its commitment to deliver on its aims and objectives in ensuring trusted and effective veterinary regulation in the years ahead. I look forward to working with my esteemed Council colleagues, executive team and stakeholders in the months ahead to continue our engagement and influence in the best interests of animal health and welfare, and public health.”
The Council’s strategic objectives for the coming years include:
- Lead animal health and welfare in line with One Health, One Welfare initiatives
- Maintain confidence of the public and veterinary professions in the VCI processes
- Enable good professional practice and professionalism through education
- Support the health and well-being of registrants
- Support and develop the role of the veterinary nurse
- Enhance, influence and inform policy through insightful research and meaningful engagement
The Veterinary Council’s annual report for 2019 can be accessed here.