Improved process introduced to deal with concerns against vets

Improvements to the way in which concerns raised about the conduct of veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses are dealt with, have been made by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).

A new concerns investigation procedure was introduced in August with the aim of streamlining the process and making it less stressful for all concerned by improving communication and reducing the amount of time taken to resolve issues.

The changes are the result of an initiative in which the RCVS carried out telephone interviews with members of the public, and the profession, who had raised concerns.

RCVS head of professional conduct, Eleanor Ferguson, said the calls revealed that some animal owners who had made complaints to the College were frustrated with the speed at which their case was either resolved or progressed and the lack of communication regarding what stage their complaint was at.

“To deal with this we have introduced greater flexibility to allow us to resolve concerns more quickly and fast-track the most serious cases to the Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC),” she said, adding that improvements had also been made concerning regular telephone contact and documentation in plain English in relation to complaint cases.

Key aspects of the new investigation process include:

  • a simpler three-stage structure comprising a new, initial assessment and investigation stage; further investigation by the PIC; and, referral to the Disciplinary Committee (DC);
  • small teams of three to initially manage concerns, to make the process more agile and flexible;
  • improving service standards so that, from the day the concern is received, there will be acknowledgement within two days; a phone call within two weeks; the initial assessment/investigation within three months; any consideration by the PIC within nine months; and, any DC listing within 12 months. The RCVS aims to implement this time-scale within three years;
  • internal controls to help meet service standards and allocate extra resources if necessary;
  • fast-tracking of serious cases to the PIC, e.g. dishonesty, false certification, and serious convictions.

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