The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is calling for comment on a draft Performance Protocol, which aims to manage proportionately any justified concerns about the professional performance of veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses (RVNs).


The RCVS's Preliminary Investigation and Advisory Committees have been working together to develop a new protocol setting out the way in which the College will respond to ongoing performance-related concerns. There is an expectation that veterinary surgeons and RVNs are already regularly reviewing their clinical work in the workplace. This will be reinforced by the new principles-based Code of Professional Conduct, currently being finalised, which is likely to require clinical governance to be part of professional practice for veterinary surgeons and RVNs.


The draft protocol is intended to formalise and build on the way the RCVS already manages ongoing serious performance-related concerns. It introduces new measures, including supervision and undertakings, to seek to ensure that veterinary surgeons and RVNs take reasonable steps to address any serious performance concerns. This will bring the RCVS into line with other professional regulators and enable a tailored and proportionate response to these cases to protect the welfare of animals and the public interest. The College's current system of offering advice to veterinary surgeons and RVNs will remain for complaints which are closed, because there is no indication of serious professional misconduct.


According to independent legal advice, such an approach is appropriate and necessary in order for the RCVS to fulfil its regulatory responsibilities. The draft performance protocol follows similar legal advice that supported the implementation of the RCVS Health Protocol, and both protocols clarify the College's parallel jurisdiction relating to health and performance-related issues.


"When veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses are unable to deal with performance-related concerns, it is important that we are able to provide a supportive framework to oversee remedial steps that are designed to address those concerns and encourage professional development. This is best achieved outside a Disciplinary Committee hearing, if at all possible," says RCVS President Jerry Davies.


The approved draft protocol is now open for public consultation, and may be found at All comments on the draft should be emailed to Simon Wiklund, Advisory Manager at by 13 January 2012, with 'Performance Protocol' added to the subject heading.


The feedback received from the consultation will be considered by the Preliminary Investigation and Advisory Committees in January 2012, before being submitted to RCVS Council for approval in March.


The College hopes that a performance protocol will form part of the supporting guidance to the new RCVS Codes of Professional Conduct for both veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses.