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The Stage one PIC

Aim: To guide the decision making process of the Stage one PIC as they decide whether to conclude an investigation into a veterinary surgeon or to refer a case to the Stage 2 Preliminary Investigation Committee.

The Stage one PIC is generally composed of three members of the Stage two committee; one veterinary surgeon, one lay person and one other. The Stage one PIC is assisted by a Case Manager (who may be legally qualified) who will carry out the investigations.

The Stage one PIC will make decisions when sufficient information about the concerns raised has been obtained.

The Stage one PIC may direct that the Case Manager:

  1. Obtain information: 
    1. from the person raising the concerns;
    2. from the veterinary surgeon about whom concerns have been raised;
    3. from others at the veterinary practice, such as the veterinary surgeon’s employers or other veterinary colleagues, or members of staff where the veterinary surgeon works.
    4. from anyone who may have witnessed or have knowledge about any of the concerns raised; and/or,
    5. from any other veterinary surgeon that may have treated the animal involved.
  2. obtain clinical records relating to any treatment carried out;
  3. instruct the College’s Veterinary Investigators to visit the veterinary surgeon(s) involved; visit the person raising the concerns or anyone else who may have knowledge about the incidents, and to report back to them.

The Stage one PIC will balance:

  1. protection of the public from the risk of practice by veterinary surgeons who for any reason (whether competence, integrity or health) are unfit to practise; and the maintenance of standards; 
  2. maintaining the reputation of the profession and public confidence in the profession; and the legitimate expectation of the public that concerns of a serious nature will be fully and fairly investigated;
  1. the need for legitimate safeguards for the veterinary surgeon, who as a professional person may be considered particularly vulnerable to, and damaged by, unwarranted charges against him/her.

The Stage one PIC must decide whether it has sufficient information to conclude that there is not a realistic prospect of establishing that what the veterinary surgeon has done, or not done, has fallen far short of that expected of a veterinary surgeon and could affect his/her fitness to practise, i.e. serious professional misconduct.

Members of the Stage one PIC are obliged to consider the merits and facts of each individual case and to exercise their own judgement in making decisions. However, this should be exercised within the framework of the statutory legislation and the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct.