Discussions, decisions and direction at June RCVS meeting - Veterinary Practice
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Discussions, decisions and direction at June RCVS meeting

THE JUNE MEETING OF THE ROYAL COLLEGE COUNCIL was held in the resplendent surrounds of the Cardiff City Hall Council Chamber – very definitely a step up in life from the council chamber at Belgravia House in London, writes Richard Stephenson.

The meeting was the culmination of three days of regional RCVS activity which included a “Mind matters – mental health course”, PSS surgeries (fully subscribed), regional question time, operational board meeting and a “stakeholders” meeting.

While it is a very positive exercise for the RCVS to keep in touch with the regions – especially in the light of the devolution of powers from Westminster – the higher than normal number of absences (six members) perhaps reflected the increased difficulty in reaching Cardiff rather than London.

Despite the traditional council supper the night before being billed as a “Welsh banquet” (and very pleasant it was with genuine Welsh singing and Tom Jones impersonation), council members seemed fresh and eager to get started.

The president, Dr Bradley Viner, welcomed the council members in Welsh (so no one really understood what he was saying – even Welsh speakers) and congratulated Professor Mike Herrtage on receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Kennel Club.

The advance papers for consideration were remarkably light for a full council – being a mere 504 pages. As such, what follows is very much my own reflections on the meeting and not intended as an official report: there are many subjects that were covered by the meeting not dealt with here! In summary:

  • DEFRA is positive about reforms to the council structure – legislation hoped for in time for the 2017 elections; the CVO is to be a non-voting member.
  • More staff will be brought in to the professional conduct department to speed up dealing with concerns.
  • A further ADR trial will be held next year.
  • A consultation is to be held on outcomes-based CPD approved.
  • Feline renal transplantation for living donors (even pre-euthanasia) to remain unethical.
  • The new Fellowship has been launched with 56 applications.
  • The RCVS is said to be a “great place to work” by 93% of staff.
  • Directing prescriptions is no longer permitted.
  • The preliminary investigation committee highlighted concerns regarding premature discharge/transfer of animals post surgery in an unfit state for the “convenience” of the practice and the dangers of retrospective amending of clinical notes.
  • A legacy from Mrs N. Miller of £203,734 has been received and transferred to RCVS Knowledge.

The CEO, Nick Stace, reported that since March, the RCVS had made good progress in a number of areas, including the launching of Vet Nursing Futures and Vet Futures Europe as well as identifying the action plans from the Vet Futures Action Group.

The new strategic plan is beginning to take shape and a draft will be discussed at the council meeting in September along with any structural changes to RCVS staffing.

Among significant areas for practitioners included in his report were that £225,000 is being made available from the disciplinary reserve to help relieve pressure on the “concerns process”. An increase in the number of complaints (to around 1,000) and decreased staffing levels had resulted in the professional conduct department falling short of key performance indicators set by the council.

The CEO said that other regulators were experiencing similar increases in complaints. Five “paralegals” and one administrator will be hired for a six-month period to assist the current case managers and office space will be rented near Belgravia House to house the additional staff.

In addition, the PIC will be split into two committees (both chaired by the same person) to enable cases to be dealt with more efficiently (and quickly) as the RCVS recognises that being investigated is extremely stressful for veterinary surgeons. The whole system will be reviewed next year in anticipation of the LRO review in 2018.

Peter Jinman raised the issue of the continued vacancy for Registrar. The CEO confirmed that the acting registrar was managing well and that there was no urgent rush to appoint a permanent one.

  • Mr Stephenson has served two terms as an elected member of the council and decided not to seek re-election this year. He will present further recollections of his final meeting in next month’s issue.

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