Today (16 January), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) launched a public consultation on proposals that would enable the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to reconstitute its disciplinary committees independently of the RCVS Council, to ensure that the same group of people are not responsible for setting the rules, investigating complaints and hearing cases.
The proposed changes will be made by a Legislative Reform Order that will amend a specific part of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, to 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.
RCVS President, Dr. Jerry Davies says: "I am delighted that Defra is consulting on these long-anticipated proposals, which would allow the RCVS to deliver better, fairer and more effective regulation. I would urge members of 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 which consider allegations of misconduct on the part of veterinary surgeons would thus 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, thus allowing the case-load to be more efficiently handled and ensuring that complaints are heard swiftly.
The full details of the proposals can be found in Defra's consultation documents, which can be accessed at:
The deadline for consultation responses is 10 April 2012.
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