Over the last decade some veterinary practices have become used to employing SQPs (suitably qualified persons) enabling employees of their businesses to prescribe either POM-VPS or NFA-VPS medicines with a degree of autonomy. Many veterinary practices don't bother because other practice staff members can on some occasions dispense these medicines as the practice is under the overall control of whichever vet is in charge; but vets can't be everywhere and use of SQPs means that where circumstances demand it some practice members can be empowered to reach out and supply more of their clients basic healthcare needs.

Historically before the implementation of the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2005 (which are amended every year) SQPs existed but there was no legal basis for their existence; what was then called the Animal Medicines Inspectorate of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain used to inspect and regulate premises supplying medicines on the Pharmacy and Merchants' List (PML) but with no power to regulate the individual SQPs actually dispensing these medicines. At that time there was what was in effect a voluntary register of Suitably Qualified Persons run by an organisation called the Animal Medicines Training and Regulatory Authority.

When the Veterinary Medicines Regulations came in this gave AMTRA the chance to put SQPs on a legal footing, and the organisation took this opportunity to legitimise their activities. What many people don't know is that the regulations permitted more than one organisation to hold a register of SQPs - it was not a privilege reserved for AMTRA alone. Arguably this is something the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons could have done; AMTRA had a few hundred thousand pounds in cash reserves and less than half a dozen staff. The RCVS had the largest infrastructure in the veterinary industry in the UK and many millions in reserves; but it was something the College chose not to do.

News today indicates that one other organisation has chosen to set up a register of SQPs and been approved by VMD. Vetskill Ltd has today (26th August) been approved by the VMD as a body authorised to maintain a register of SQPs.

A decade on then another organisation has taken up the challenge of regulating one of the bodies of professional people authorised to prescribe and dispense veterinary medicines in the UK.

The only thing that surprises me is that it has taken a decade for another organisation to want to do it.....