Plans for the introduction of a disciplinary mechanism for RegisteredVeterinary Nurses (RVNs) have been agreed by the RCVS Veterinary NursesCouncil.

RVNs agree to account for their professional conduct and keep their skills and knowledge up to date: over 70 per cent of eligible veterinary nurses have now joined the non-statutory Register.

The Veterinary Nurses Council agreed to a period of nearly three years between the opening of the Register and the College putting in place a disciplinary mechanism. This was to give RVNs time to get used to their new rights and responsibilities. Plans are now in place to introduce a disciplinary system from September 2010.

Charges could be brought against a veterinary nurse 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 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.

Complaints would initially be dealt with by the Veterinary Nurses Preliminary Investigation Committee (VN PIC), which will assess whether the complaints should be taken to the hearing stage. Three RVNs will sit on this 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.

Meanwhile three RVNs will join existing members of the RCVS Disciplinary Committee (DC) to form a VN DC, to adjudicate on charges against a veterinary nurse. These individuals will not currently sit on VN Council. If the case were against a VN, the sitting panel would include at least one veterinary nurse, one veterinary surgeon and a lay person acting as chairman. A legal assessor would also sit with the Committee to offer advice.

If a case were to concern both a veterinary surgeon and a veterinary nurse, the preliminary investigation would be carried out in tandem but with separate disciplinary hearings.

Applications are invited for RVNs to sit on the new VN Preliminary Investigation or Disciplinary Committees. Anyone who would like further information should contact Lesley Evans, Manager, Executive Office ( or 020 7222 2001) by 31 May 2009.

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