Call for an end to rogue veterinary nurses

Campaigner describes how animal lovers may be entrusting their pets to unqualified charlatans

A Muswell Hill animal lover is backing a campaign to ensure that only people with the correct qualifications can describe themselves as veterinary nurses.

Qualified veterinary nurses need to either have a vocational diploma or a veterinary nursing degree and be registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Nurses.

But unlike with “protected” job titles such as doctor, any person off the street can call themselves a veterinary nurse without committing an offence.

This means that unsuspecting pet owners might entrust their animals to people with no professional experience.

And vet practices can claim to employ veterinary nurses even if their staff are not registered.

This is in spite of the fact that qualified veterinary nurses can be entrusted to take blood, carry out X-rays, or administer anaesthetic.

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Jane Davidson, a qualified veterinary nurse, is fighting to change this situation.

“At the moment, anyone can call themselves a veterinary nurse,” she said. “Clients come in and wouldn’t think to challenge it.”

The 40-year-old, who now works as a locum, has been employed with Village Vet in Hampstead and Highgate, PetVet in Highgate and Hornsey Vets.

In her experience, veterinary nurses are on the frontline of animal care.

“It’s the nurses who are there, we answer people’s questions,” she said. “People are often tongue-tied when they talk to a vet; they’re worried that they’ve done something stupid.

“If they’ve given their pet two doses of medication by mistake they might tell that to the nurse. Often you’re a more friendly face - more approachable.”

Ms Davidson believes that part of the problem is an influx of overseas veterinary nurse workers.

They might be able to work abroad, but they have not necessarily done the exams to qualify in the UK.

She is urging pet lovers to sign a petition to protect the title of “veterinary nurse” so that well-loved domestic and wild animals are treated by professionals.

To sign the petition: