Members of the veterinary profession are to get their own “whistle-blower” line to report concerns and complaints about colleagues from their own and rival practices.
Funds for a trial scheme were announced at RCVS council.
Chief executive Nick Stace told members: “A lot of vets have asked for this to be included as there isn’t a formal line at the moment.”
Mr Stace told council the RCVS already accepted people coming forward anonymously with information, but the idea of the trial was to formalise the process and make the profession aware of it, as well as letting potential whistle-blowers know what would happen with their information.
He said the trial did not mean it would remain in the long term, but told council members: “I certainly think we should be looking at this.”
RCVS registrar Gordon Hockey said: “When one thinks of whistle-blowing, one thinks a whistle-blower’s line is a hotline you can telephone, hand over the information and leave. That’s not what we’re thinking of.
“What we already have is 50% of complaints coming from veterinary surgeons. Not all of those will be in the same practice; there may be a competitive relationship. Some of them are whistle-blowers so we already deal with that, but we don’t signpost it, we don’t give them any additional help and we don’t make it clear they can do this sort of thing.”
He said other regulators and authorities had ways of responding to anonymous whistle-blower information and the ability to gather evidence in ways the RCVS doesn’t. The new scheme aims to address that by making the system more accessible.
Details of how the system will work are being assessed and council hopes to learn from the experience of other regulators.
Council members were told the trial line could replace the RCVS advice line, which was scrapped after a three-month trial due to very low demand – with few calls after 5pm.