Over the next six months the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is investing £225,000 in its Professional Conduct Department’s concerns investigation process in order to increase the speed at which concerns are either closed or referred, ensure that it meets its service standards and reduce stress for the public and profession.

The decision to increase investment in the process was made by the College’s Operational Board and reported to RCVS Council at its meeting earlier this month in response to a steady increase in the number of concerns being investigated. This year, for example, it is likely that the College will, for the first time, receive in excess of 1,000 concerns raised about the professional conduct of veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.

The College developed a simplified, three-stage concerns process in 2014 which included the introduction of targets for cases to be either closed or referred at each stage. In order to ensure that these targets can be met, the College will now be hiring five paralegals to assist the existing five case managers.

Eleanor Ferguson, Acting Registrar, explains: “Currently we are only closing or referring just over half of concerns we receive at stage 1 (case examiner stage) within our four month target. In order for the system to run more smoothly we will be investing in extra staff to help clear the backlog and ensure that these targets are met going forward.

“Similarly, in order to deal with the increase in the number of cases being referred to Preliminary Investigation Committee (stage 2), we will be increasing the frequency of these committee meetings from one to two per month.

“It is important to add that this investment is not just about dealing with concerns more quickly but is also about quality of service and having more staff on hand will ensure that this quality is maintained in terms of how we communicate with complainants and members of the profession. Speeding up the process will reduce the stress and anxiety felt by all involved.”

More details about the College’s concerns investigation process and its different stages can be found at www.rcvs.org.uk/concerns