Shake up for veterinary disciplinary committees

DEFRA has begun a consultation on proposals which would enable the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to overhaul the way it runs its disciplinary committees.

The RCVS governs the veterinary profession through its council and system of committees, which include the two statutory committees dealing with disciplinary proceedings – the Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC) and Disciplinary Committee (DC).

RCVS Council sets both the standards for the profession and, through these statutory committees, deals with any possible breaches of those standards. This has resulted in an overlap of functions.

If the proposals are accepted, the RCVS would be able to reconstitute its disciplinary committees independently of the RCVS Council, to ensure the same group of people is not responsible for setting the rules, investigating complaints and hearing cases.

The proposed changes will be made by a Legislative Reform Order, which will amend a specific part of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

This will require the RCVS Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary Committees to be made up of veterinary surgeons and lay members who are not RCVS Council members, and who are appointed at arm’s length.

Effective

President of the RCVS, Jerry Davis, says: “I am delighted Defra is consulting on these long-anticipated proposals, which would allow the RCVS to deliver better, fairer and more effective regulation.

“I would urge the profession and the public to respond to this important consultation and to support the changes.”

Under the proposals, following a transitional period, the committees would cease to include council members.

The bodies considering allegations of misconduct of veterinary surgeons would then be independently constituted and detached from policy discussions.

The proposals would also improve the independence of the disciplinary processes by formally bringing lay people into the relevant committees.

In addition, the changes would increase the pool of people available to investigate complaints and sit on disciplinary hearings. This will allow the case-load to be more efficiently handled and ensure complaints are heard swiftly.

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