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DEFRA is inviting views on a proposed Legislative Reform Order (LRO), which would amend the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (VSA) and allow the RCVS to reconstitute its disciplinary committees independently of the RCVS Council.
In a consultation document published on January 16, Defra says that the existing disciplinary system for the veterinary profession is ‘now considered to be inflexible, insufficiently impartial and out of date when compared to the “best practice” seen in other comparable professions’. This, it explains, is because, under the existing legislation, the RCVS Council not only sets the standards for the profession, but also deals with possible breaches of those standards which, in structural terms, means ‘there is insufficient independence when considering disciplinary cases’. The VSA specifies that the membership of the two statutory committees that deal with disciplinary proceedings for the profession – the Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC) and Disciplinary Committee (DC) – has to be drawn from the RCVS Council, although both veterinary and lay Council members are eligible to be elected to the committees. There is nothing in statute insisting that the committees should include lay members. The Act also prescribes the size of the …