- Council Members
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- I want to raise a concern about a veterinary surgeon
- I want to raise a concern about a registered veterinary nurse
- Confidential Reporting Line
How we assess and investigate concerns raised about you
There are 3 stages to our investigation procedure, as explained below.
Stage 1 Preliminary Investigation Committee
Your Case Manager
Once we have received a concern about you, we will assign you with a Case Manager who will be responsible for investigating the concerns.
We will generally ask you to write to us and comment on the concerns. If we do so, it may be appropriate at this stage for you to inform your employer and/or your indemnity insurer about the concern that has been received.
We will send a copy of the information you provide to the person who has raised the concern so that they can tell us if they agree or disagree with anything you have written. If any such comments are made, these will be shared with you so that you have an opportunity to make any final comments, before any decision is made.
However, it may not be necessary for us to contact you if we have received enough information from the person raising the concerns to allow us to assess those concerns fully. On the other hand, we may need to gather additional information so that we can decide what action we can take.
Your Case Manager may therefore seek information over the telephone, by email, or in writing, for example:
- from you;
- from the person who has raised concerns about you;
- from others at your veterinary practice (such as your employer or veterinary/non-veterinary colleagues);
- from anyone who may have witnessed or have knowledge about any of the incidents involved; and/or
- from any other veterinary surgeon who may have treated the patient.
Your Case Manager may also ask for copies of the clinical records relating to the patient's treatment.
Our investigations could also involve:
- instructing our Veterinary Investigators to visit you, and/or the person who has raised concerns, and/or anyone else who may have knowledge about the incidents, and to report back to your Case Manager;
- obtaining formal witness statements (from you and others); and/or
- obtaining expert reports.
Your Case Manager may, at any time, seek guidance about an investigation from the Chairman of the Preliminary investigation Committee or the Head of Professional Conduct at the RCVS.
Consideration by the Stage 1 Preliminary Investigation Committee (Stage 1 PIC)
Once your Case Manager considers that sufficient information has been obtained to enable the concern to be assessed (and this may be solely on the basis of the information received from the person raising the concerns), it will be considered by a Stage 1 PIC.
The Stage 1 PIC will ordinarily be a quorum of three members, one veterinary surgeon, one lay member and one other.
The Stage 1 PIC makes its decisions in private, so neither you, nor the person who has raised the concern, will attend any of its meetings.
The Stage 1 PIC will decide whether it can close the case at this stage, on the basis that there is no realistic prospect of the concerns raised being proved and of them amounting to serious professional misconduct.
The Stage 1 PIC can:
- close the matter with no further action;
- close the matter and issue advice to you; or,
- decide that it has insufficient information to conclude the matter and that the case should be referred to a Stage 2 Preliminary Investigation Committee (Stage 2 PIC). That PIC's role is to decide whether a case should proceed to Stage 3, a Disciplinary Committee (DC) hearing.
Upon the authorisation of the PIC Chairman and/or the Head of Professional Conduct, concerns and/or convictions/cautions that are identified as being of a potentially serious nature may be referred directly to the Stage 2 PIC for investigations to be carried out.
We will write to both you and the person who raised the concern about the Stage 1 PIC's decision, and the reasons behind it.
Stage 2 Preliminary Investigation Committee
The Stage 2 PIC meets to consider whether there is a realistic prospect that what you have done, or not done, could affect your fitness to practise and amounts to serious professional misconduct, and whether the case should therefore be referred to a DC hearing.
The Stage 2 PIC meetings are in private, so neither you, nor the person who raised the concern, will attend any of the meetings.
The Stage 2 PIC will receive all the information and documents previously made available to the Stage 1 PIC.
Both you and the person who raised the concern will be notified if a matter is going forward to the Stage 2 PIC and will have the opportunity to provide any additional comments and information that you would like it to consider.
When the Stage 2 PIC considers matters, it may require more information before making a decision (see above for the sort of information that it may ask for).
The Stage 2 PIC will, in any event, ask you to supply details of your continuing professional development records for the last three years, as well as to confirm your indemnity insurance details.
What the Stage two PIC can do
The Stage 2 PIC may decide to:
- close the case with no further action;
- close the case and issue advice to you;
- refer the case to the Charter Case Committee for a warning;
- refer a complaint to the DC for a hearing. It will do this where it considers that there is a realistic prospect of the DC finding that your alleged conduct falls far short of the standard expected of a reasonably competent veterinary surgeon. The Stage 2 PIC will do so in particular when it takes the view that the behaviour, if proved, is fundamentally incompatible with your being a veterinary surgeon and this may include any behaviours in the following (non-exhaustive) list:
- Very poor professional performance where there has been a serious departure from the standards set out in the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct;
- Causing, or causing risk of, serious harm to animals or the public, particularly where there is a breach of trust;
- Offences of a sexual nature;
- Offences involving violence and/or loss of human life;
- Evidence of a harmful or deep-seated personality or attitude problem; and/or
- Dishonesty (including false certification), particularly where persistent or concealed;
- retain a case for ongoing monitoring under the RCVS Health Protocol; or,
- retain a case for ongoing monitoring under the RCVS Performance Protocol.
Stage 3 Disciplinary Committee hearing
If a case is referred to the Disciplinary Committee, there will be a formal hearing.
A DC hearing is like a court hearing and the person who raised the concern will probably be asked to attend to give evidence under oath or affirmation (a solemn promise to tell the truth). Other witnesses will also usually be called to give evidence.
Generally, a DC hearing date will be offered within 15 months of the date we received the concerns form.
You may appeal to the Privy Council against a DC decision to suspend or remove you from the register.
Visit the Disciplinary Committee page for further information about what the DC can do.