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HomesingaporeSingapore to set up veterinary council to raise sector standards, support for...

Singapore to set up veterinary council to raise sector standards, support for over 1,000 professionals

SINGAPORE: A council to regulate the standards and practices of veterinary professionals in Singapore, while safeguarding the health and welfare of animals will be set up, said the National Parks Board (NParks) on Friday (Oct 13). 

When formed, the veterinary council is expected to support between 1,000 and 1,500 professionals in the sector, including veterinarians, and veterinary nurses and technicians. 

It was reported in 2021 that the Singapore Veterinary Association (SVA) and NParks’ Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) were looking at the need for a professional body for the vet sector, with a review being conducted to raise standards and address gaps in the sector. 

Announced by Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How, the council will be a professional body under NParks and legislation will be enacted to support its functions. 

“We intend to establish a veterinary council in Singapore by 2025,” said Mr Tan at the Singapore Vet Show at the Suntec Convention Centre on Friday.

It will comprise a mix of members from both the public and private sector, similar to other local professional bodies, NParks said.

“The 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 disciplinary cases.”

NParks added that it 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 United Kingdom. 

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COUNCIL TO PLAY A “PIVOTAL ROLE”

The 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”, said NParks. 

This includes recognising the qualifications of veterinary nurses and technicians, and putting in place professional development requirements for veterinary nurses and technicians, added the agency. NParks pointed to the growing pet population in Singapore over the years, along with a corresponding growth in the size, scope and complexity of the veterinary sector, for the council’s formation. 

“The number of licensed vets has increased almost four times, from 121 in 2006 to 542 as of May 2023,” it said, adding that the variety of veterinary services and treatments has also grown. 

“Additionally, there has been increasing public scrutiny on the ethics of the types of services provided, including for novel therapies.” 

NParks also stressed that the council’s role will be distinct from AVS, which 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”. 

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SECTOR CONSULTED

In early 2021, NParks and SVA first started engaging the veterinary sector through an online survey and in 2022, conducted a series of focus group sessions with vets, veterinary nurses and technicians, 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 online survey had close to 400 respondents and at least one-third of them felt that veterinary work could be better defined. Almost all agreed that it was important to define and allow only qualified individuals to perform acts of veterinary science. 

More than half of the respondents felt that veterinary nurses and technicians in Singapore could be better recognised for their roles in veterinary work, and almost all agreed professional standards for vets should be regularly reviewed and benchmarked with overseas countries, among other findings.

Focus groups were subsequently conducted in the second half of 2021 and the first half of 2022 with industry members and users. 

“It was proposed that the functions of the veterinary council would include registration of veterinary professionals, accreditation of academic courses for registration, issuance of licences and/or practising certificates, setting standards and overseeing disciplinary matters,” NParks said.

“The veterinary council should also comprise fair representation of the industry and the necessary domain expertise.”

More details on the roles and responsibilities of and implementation plans for the veterinary council will be shared at a later date.

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