Emotional support offered to those undergoing investigation.
On Wednesday (9 June) the RCVS launched an independent service for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses who are under investigation by the RCVS following complaints about their professional conduct. The service aims to provide emotional support to those under investigation.
Named The ProfCon Investigation Support (PCIS), the service is a confidential and free-of-charge, providing a listening ear and support for the individual under investigation. The service is funded by the RCVS and its Mind Matters Initiative mental health project, however, it is delivered independently by VetSupport.me, who already offer general support services to veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.
A group of trained and experienced volunteers provide the service, and will be able to offer support to any veterinary surgeon or nurse going through the experience of an RCVS investigation. The volunteers are also able to offer support to any members of the professions who are acting as witnesses in such cases.
RCVS CEO Lizzie Lockett 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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vetsupport.me to find out more about the service and meet our team of supporters.”
Whilst the service fulfils the RCVS' ambitions as a compassionate regulator, the service also grew out of an audit conducted by Open Minds Health 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.
The full report, including the College's responses to the recommendations given, is available to view on rcvs.org.uk/publications