Volunteers are being urged to step forward to take part in thedisciplinary system being set up to govern registered veterinary nurses(RVNs).

The Register for Veterinary Nurses was launched in September 2007 and plans are now underway to introduce a disciplinary system for RVNs from September 2010.

The college is now looking for RVNs to join two committees that will form part of the disciplinary system.

Opportunities exist for RVNs to join one of the two committees that will be set up to run the complaints and disciplinary system. The college is now calling for RVNs who wish to become involved in this development for the profession to step forward.

Under the proposals, complaints would initially be dealt with by a new committee, the Veterinary Nurses Preliminary Investigation Committee (VN PIC), which will assess whether the complaints should be taken to the stage where they would be heard by the VN Disciplinary Committee. Veterinary versions of both of these committees already exist.

Three RVNs will sit on the VN PIC committee. They will be joined by three members of the veterinary PIC, including either the RCVS president, or one of the vice-presidents, and one lay observer. The VN members will receive training and be given an opportunity to observe the process.

Three different RVNs will join existing members of the veterinary disciplinary committee (DC) to form the new VN DC, to adjudicate on charges against a veterinary nurse. These individuals will not currently sit on VN council. A legal assessor would also sit with the committee to offer advice. No one who has been a member of the PIC (essentially the prosecution) is allowed to sit on the DC for a period of at least three years, to ensure fair hearing of a case.

Once the system is in place, charges could be brought against veterinary nurses on exactly the same basis as for vets, that is, if found guilty of fraudulent registration, criminal convictions which render him or her unfit to practise as a veterinary nurse, or allegations of disgraceful professional conduct.

The sanctions would be the same as currently exist for veterinary surgeons, ie to remove a nurse’s name from the Register (with the nurse eligible to apply for restoration after 10 months), or to suspend the nurse, with his or her name returning to the Register immediately after the period of suspension. A veterinary nurse would not be able to carry out Schedule 3 tasks while removed from the Register, neither would they be able to join the unregulated List, which closed to new applications on 1 September 2007.

Applications are invited for RVNs to sit on the new VN preliminary investigation or disciplinary committees. Anyone who would like further information can contact Lesley Evans at l.evans@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7222 2001 by May 31.

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