A Veterinary Council will be established to regulate standards and practices of veterinary professionals
13 Oct 2023
- Veterinary Council will be established by legislation
A Veterinary Council will be established as a professional body under the National Parks Board (NParks). This was announced by Mr Tan Kiat How, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Communications and Information. Legislation will be enacted to support the functions of the Veterinary Council.
The Veterinary Council will be responsible for governing the registration of veterinary professionals, accrediting veterinary training programmes, developing and reviewing sectoral standards, as well as investigating and enforcing against disciplinary cases. When established, the Veterinary Council is expected to support between 1,000 and 1,500 veterinary professionals, including veterinarians (vets), and veterinary nurses and technicians, otherwise known as veterinary paraprofessionals (VPPs). The Veterinary Council will comprise a mix of members from both the public and private sector, similar to other local professional bodies. For guidance, NParks had also studied the set-ups of overseas veterinary boards such as the Veterinary Practitioners Board of New South Wales in Australia, and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in the UK.
Establishment of Veterinary Council to regulate professional standards and practices and provide better support for a growing sector
The pet population in Singapore has risen over the years, along with a corresponding growth in the size, scope and complexity of the veterinary sector. The number of licensed vets has increased almost four times, from 121 in 2006 to 542 as of May 2023. There has also been a significant rise in the number of specialists and other related workers involved in providing or supporting the administration of medical treatments and healthcare to animals, including veterinary technicians, veterinary nurses and animal physiotherapists.
The variety of veterinary services and treatments has also grown. For example, procedures such as specialised surgical procedures, chemotherapy and acupuncture, are being offered more widely. Additionally, there has been increasing public scrutiny on the ethics of the types of services provided, including for novel therapies.
There is thus a need to regulate and support this growing sector. The establishment of a Veterinary Council will play a pivotal role in developing and upholding standards and practices for the profession, while safeguarding the health and welfare of animals. This includes recognising the qualifications of veterinary nurses and technicians, and putting in place professional development requirements for VPPs. The Council will also more clearly define the scope of activities that can only be performed by veterinary professionals.
The Veterinary Council’s role will be distinct from the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS), a cluster of NParks. AVS will continue to regulate veterinary clinics and animal-related businesses, safeguard animal health and welfare, and act as the first responder for all animal-related feedback in Singapore.
Engagement of stakeholders for set up of Veterinary Council
NParks, together with the Singapore Veterinary Association (SVA), first started engaging the veterinary sector through an online survey in early 2021. Subsequently over the course of 2022, they conducted a series of focus group discussions with vets, VPPs, and users of veterinary services. These engagements aimed to understand the key challenges faced by the sector and discuss ways to raise the industry’s professional standards. The key findings from the stakeholder engagements are aligned with NParks’ and SVA’s observations on the need to better define the scope of veterinary activities, as well as the importance of continuous skills upgrading and recognising qualifications of veterinary professionals in Singapore.
NParks will continue to engage stakeholders to refine the roles and responsibilities of and implementation plans for the Veterinary Council. More details will be shared later.
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