The RCVS is seeking comment on a new draft health protocol which aims to deal compassionately with vets who have health problems, such as alcohol or drug addiction or mental health issues, while continuing to protect the public interest.

The RCVS is seeking comment on a new draft health protocol which aims to deal compassionately with vets who have health problems, such as alcohol or drug addiction or mental health issues, while continuing to protect the public interest.

Anyone worried about a veterinary surgeon's health should report those concerns to the RCVSAccording to independent legal advice sought by the college, such an approach is appropriate and necessary in order for the RCVS to fulfil its regulatory responsibilities – similar systems exist within other regulators.

RCVS president Peter Jinman said: “At present, where veterinary surgeons suffer from health problems that affect their fitness to practise, they may be referred to a formal and public disciplinary committee inquiry and stopped from practising. But it is recognised that this is not always in the public interest, which could be protected by a more compassionate approach, involving medical help, workplace supervision and continued practice, subject to conditions.”

As a result, a draft protocol has been developed by the RCVS preliminary investigation and advisory committees, which can help veterinary surgeons to recover from health problems affecting fitness to practise, without referral to the RCVS Disciplinary Committee.

The protocol encourages anyone worried about a veterinary surgeon’s health to report those concerns to the RCVS, while taking steps to ensure that animals are not put at risk and that the interests of the public, including those of their colleagues, are protected.

RCVS logoA similar protocol would be introduced for registered veterinary nurses when the equivalent disciplinary system comes into force in 2011.

The draft protocol, together with recommended changes to the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct to support the change, is available online.

Comments should be sent to advisory manager Simon Wiklund (s.wiklund@rcvs.org.uk) by October 8. A hard copy of the consultation document is available on request.

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