BSAVA recommends that veterinary surgeons should discuss the options for referral and should inform clients of the qualifications and level of expertise of the professionals and para-professionals to whom they intend to refer. Veterinary surgeons should also be clear regarding any on-going case responsibility particularly where clients are directed to non-veterinary qualified individuals.

Background information

Veterinary surgeons may advise referral for a number of reasons, including when a case or treatment option is outside their area of expertise and in order to access specific diagnostic or surgical techniques.
Veterinary surgeons sometimes have the need or desire to involve paraprofessionals in the care of their small animal patients. Most commonly this might be for behavioural issues or physiotherapy/rehabilitation. However in these areas the range of qualifications and services on offer may be confusing. It is important to be clear about the qualifications and experience of the person accepting referrals.When discussing and arranging referral (to professionals or para-professionals)  the veterinary surgeon must take note of the RCVS guidance to consider all the relevant factors, which might include:

  • the ability and experience of the referral veterinary surgeon / para-professional
  • the location of the service,
  • the urgency of treatment
  • the circumstances of the owner, including the existence of and any limitations of insurance.

Veterinary surgeons should be prepared to justify their referral decisions and should record the reasons for their decisions.


RCVS – updated June 2016


New for 2011 – updated June 2016

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