Plans to open up the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ (RCVS) disciplinary committee to lay people have been welcomed.

Vets, vet nurses and the public are being asked to comment on the plans to update the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, put forward by the RCVS.

Until now the RCVS’s three committees — the council, the disciplinary committee (DC) and the preliminary investigations committee (PIC) — have all been drawn from the same 40 council members.

Vet Richard Stephenson, who is on the RCVS council and the disciplinary committee, told H&H: “At the moment, the people who are making the rules are the same ones who are adjudicating on them.”

Vets have been pressing for changes to the Act since 2003, and the RCVS proposes to ask Defra to make an order under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006.

It has had to drop planned changes by going down this route, including revisions to the powers of the disciplinary committees, which would allow them to look at vets’ health and clinical performance and also offer advice or a caution as well as more draconian disciplinary action.

The RCVS has also shelved plans to bring vet nurses within the Act and to require all vets to take part in ongoing training throughout their careers.

The consultation closes on 21 October and the document can be found at www.rcvs.org.uk/consultations

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (6 August, ’09)