Hospital inspections are carried out by the RCVS under the Practice Standards Scheme.
Inspections are carried out every four years, according to the most recent version of the Practice Standards. Spot checks are also made at short notice - usually 24 hours. The Standards are reviewed every five years by the Practice Standards Group, a large committee of representatives from all areas of veterinary practice, including the BVHA. The most recent version of the Practice Standards was published in 2010.
For new practices a “pre-trading” inspection can be carried out by the RCVS. This inspection is carried out prior to the completion of work, so allowances will be made for cabinetry not being installed etc. However the inspector must be convinced, by your plans, equipment on site, invoices and delivery schedules etc that the practice will meet veterinary hospital standards upon completion. This pre-trading inspection will allow the practice to commence trading from day one as a veterinary hospital (if successful). Obviously this has implications as far as producing signage, stationery, letterheads etc. A second inspection is then carried out within six months of the pre-trading inspection. The practice must pass this inspection or all use of the name “Veterinary Hospital” will have to cease immediately.
In addition, BVHA are happy to advise on whole plans or individual questions about new premises (whether Hospital, General or Core Practices). Most commonly, we get involved at the early planning stage. Our planning reviews are available at a small cost to help you to make the right decisions for your practice at the earliest stage - before alterations start to become very expensive. Please contact us to arrange these.
The RCVS gives hospitals plenty of notice of the inspection and sends a form to be completed and returned to them. The RCVS then allocates an inspector to carry out the inspection. The veterinary hospital can request a different inspector, but the RCVS has usually already taken care to make sure that the inspector is not involved in a competitor practice.
The Inspector will then contact the Hospital directly to arrange a mutually convenient date for the inspection. Usually allow half a day for the inspection. Different inspectors approach the inspection in different ways, however it is common to do the paperwork first and then to carry out the physical inspection. There is a considerable amount of paperwork to be checked. It makes the inspector’s life a lot easier if you have organised your paperwork in the same order as that required by the RCVS. Cups of coffee and biscuits (preferably chocolate) help ease the process.
The Inspector’s report is submitted to the PSS Review Group, which comprises of the Chairman of the PSG, the Head Inspector and the Senior Vice President of the RCVS and they decide on the success of applications. Practices may be passed as a Veterinary Hospital subject to certain conditions within set time frames. Depending upon the requirements the Hospital may be required to certify that the work has been undertaken (perhaps supporting this with photographic evidence), or a re-inspection may be required.
On confirmation of Veterinary Hospital status a certificate is issued by the RCVS.