Independent support service launched for veterinary professionals being investigated by the RCVS - Veterinary Practice
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Independent support service launched for veterinary professionals being investigated by the RCVS

The ProfCon Investigation Support (PCIS) service is a free, confidential listening and support service

The RCVS is on Wednesday 9 June 2021 launching an independent service to provide
emotional support to veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses who are under
investigation by the RCVS following complaints about their professional

The ProfCon Investigation Support (PCIS)
service is a free, confidential listening and support service funded by the RCVS
and its Mind Matters Initiative mental health project but delivered
independently by VetSupport, an organisation that already offers general
support services to veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses. It started off
as VetSupport NI, and has expanded to include VetSupport Scotland followed by
VetSupport Ireland. Under the banner of VetSupport it now accepts contacts
from all across the UK and Ireland.

The service is provided by a group of trained
and experienced volunteers who will be able to offer support to any veterinary
surgeon or veterinary nurse who is going through the RCVS professional conduct
investigation process, as well as any members of the professions who are acting
as witnesses in such cases.

Lizzie Lockett, RCVS CEO, said: “At the RCVS we
recognise that being investigated in respect of alleged professional misconduct
is a very stressful and trying experience that can knock confidence and, in
some cases, lead to distress amongst practitioners.

“While part of the social contract of being
members of regulated and protected professions is that, when accusations around
professional misconduct are made, they have to be fully investigated by a
regulator to determine if there is a case to answer. As a compassionate
regulator we want to make sure that individuals going through this process can
access the help and support they need.

“This service is staffed by a team of brilliant
volunteers who already have experience in providing help and support on
matters of mental health and wellbeing and have received additional training to
augment their ability to provide emotional support to vets and nurses who may
be under investigation.

“In our Strategic Plan for 2020-24, one of our
key ambitions is to strengthen our credentials as a compassionate regulator
that acts with empathy and understanding. The ProfCon Investigation Support
Service is an important step in fulfilling this ambition, and I hope that it
can deliver help to the people that need it.”

David McKeown, from VetSupport, added: “Whether
via a phone call, an email conversation, or a meet-up over Zoom, our team of
trained volunteers, all of whom are registered vets or vet nurses themselves,
will support service users through the duration of an RCVS investigation.

“Through their support we will aim to help
individuals going through this process maintain good mental health and
wellbeing and strive to prevent more serious issues arising. The service is
completely confidential and no conversations that individuals have with our
volunteers will ever be shared with anyone else, including the RCVS. Nothing
will be fed back to the College nor be used as part of the investigation
process. It is also completely within the individual’s control as to how much
information is shared with the VetSupport volunteer. There is no obligation to
disclose any information other than perhaps a first name.

“We look forward to working with the RCVS to
provide this very important service. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on or visit to find out more about the service and meet our team of

As well as fulfilling the RCVS ambitions as a
compassionate regulator, the service also grew out of an audit conducted by
Open Minds Health, a mental health and wellbeing consultancy, in March 2018 on
the impact of the professional conduct investigation process on the welfare of
the professions and recommendations on how this could be mitigated. A full
, including the College’s responses to the recommendations, is available
to view online.

Veterinary Practice

Veterinary Practice is an online knowledge and information hub for veterinary professionals across all specialties. It provides reliable, useful and interesting content, written by expert authors and covering small animal, large animal, equine and practice management sectors of the veterinary surgeon and nursing professions.

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