New body plans to guarantee world standards at local veterinary clinics Hong Kong's pampered pets are about to get a standard of service equivalent to the best in the world. After four years' work, the city's veterinarians are ready to launch a code of practice based on international standards but recognising the 'unique' aspects of practising in Hong Kong. The 120-member Hong Kong Veterinarians' Association plans to have the code in operation by the end of the year. The code is voluntary and clinics will have to join the association before they can apply it, president Jane Gray said. 'It means that these clinics have a certain standard they can offer the public. It will help pet owners to decide - if they go to these clinics, they will receive a reasonable standard of service,' Dr Gray said. The accreditation covers aspects including personnel, clinic setting, facilities and equipment. Clinics are required to keep clear records of their patients and all frontline workers must maintain a high standard of professional behaviour, cleanliness and personal appearance at all times. The code also sets standards for animal hospitals, which must provide a separate compartment for each pet and for handling pets with contagious diseases. The standards are based on schemes in the United States, Australia and New Zealand and are in line with 'minimum best practice standards worldwide'. 'Also, we are trying to tailor the scheme to fit Hong Kong as Hong Kong has a different situation, such as having smaller clinics,' Dr Gray said. The association plans to set up a team to carry out assessments. It is proposed that the accreditation should be valid for three to five years before the clinics are reassessed to make sure their service quality can be properly maintained. 'If the clinics are accredited, we will issue them with a certificate and a leaflet to hand out to clients. We will also keep a list of accredited clinics in our website, so the public can check the list.' Dr Gray said standards of care were already high in Hong Kong and this was a way of ensuring they remained that way. 'We want the standard to be maintained and also we also want to encourage the good clinics to get accredited, so they can get recognition for their good standard.' Dr Gray said the association was still fine-tuning details. She believed Hong Kong would be one of the few places in Asia to have such an accreditation system. There were 349 registered veterinarians in Hong Kong in July last year. Up to March 16, the Veterinary Surgeons Board of Hong Kong had received 173 complaints against veterinarians since being established in October 1997. Some 22 of these were referred to the board for a disciplinary inquiry. The Veterinary Surgeons Board is a statutory body that regulates the practice of veterinary surgeons.