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March 2012 Council meeting – key decisions

15 March 2012

RCVS Council met on 1 March, under the chairmanship of President Dr Jerry Davies. The minutes of the meeting will be available in due course, but in the meantime, read on for a brief summary of some of the key decisions made.

RCVS Officers at Council meeting

Download the agenda and papers for the meeting.

This report does not give detail of discussion that took place during the meeting. Further detail on some of the decisions made, and their impact, can be found in the March issue of RCVS News.

Draft accounts

The draft accounts for 2011 were approved and Council agreed that the Treasurer, Acting Registrar and co-opted member of the Planning and Resources Committee (Dr Lydia Brown) be authorised to approve the audited accounts on behalf of Council after meeting with the Auditors Crow Clark Whitehall LLP.

Code of Professional Conduct

The draft Codes of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons, together with supporting guidance, was approved. The President thanked Clare Tapsfield-Wright, Chairman of Advisory, her Committee and Working Party members and Professional Conduct Department staff, for their hard work on this project.

The Veterinary Nurses Council had approved the VN Code and endorsed the supporting guidance at its meeting in February.

Performance Protocol

Council approved the inclusion of performance responsibilities in the draft Codes of Professional Conduct for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.

They approved the draft Performance Protocol and agreed to establish a Working Party to consider the issues arising from implementation of the Protocol, including the provision of additional guidance on performance responsibilities.

Report of the Governance Review Group

A report from the Governance Review Group was noted.

The report considered several issues: the RCVS Overspend Review; the enforcement of the Code of Conduct for Council and Committee members; the RCVS Project Management Protocol; and, the Past Presidents + 2 (PP+2) Group’s discussion paper (which was considered later, during an afternoon session of Council).

RCVS Overspend Review and Audit and Risk Committee

A paper was discussed which outlined plans for the instigation of an Audit and Risk Committee. The paper included recommendations for terms of reference, membership and appointment.

The proposals were agreed with the following amendments: the Chairman of the Committee would be independently appointed (ie not a Council member); the majority of members of the Committee would be independently appointed; and, it would not include all three members of the presidential team (two Vice-Presidents and President).

It was agreed that the new Committee would run alongside the Governance Review Group in the short-term. The Audit and Risk Committee would be reviewed after two years of establishment to see if it was proving effective.

LRO – Defra consultation

Council discussed the proposed RCVS response to the current Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consultation on a proposed Legislative Reform Order to allow members of the Disciplinary and Preliminary Investigation Committees to be independently appointed.

Council gave unanimous support to the proposed LRO. The Council discussion included issues such as the quorum, length of term on the Committees and the number of lay members on the DC. 

Lay Observer appointment

Council approved the appointment of Dr Arun Midha to sit with the Preliminary Investigation Committee as a Lay Observer, following the resignation of Judith Alderton. He will be one of three who observe the activities of the Committee.

Draft interim Social Media Strategy

Council agreed the adoption of a draft interim Social Media Strategy on the proviso that tweets were no longer sent out during Council meetings and that new activities were introduced with caution.

Advisory Committee report

A report was submitted by Advisory Committee Chairman, Clare Tapsfield-Wright. In addition to items discussed elsewhere on the Council agenda, the paper covered, amongst other things, discussion of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act Working Party and the RCVS/BVA Riding Establishments Committee.

The report was adopted by Council.

Veterinary Nurses Council report

The Chairman of the Veterinary Nurses Council, Liz Branscombe, gave a report from its February meeting, which included, among other things, the VN Council’s endorsement of the new Code of Conduct for Veterinary Nurses and supporting guidance.

The paper was adopted by Council.

Education Policy and Specialisation Committee report

The Chairman of the Education Policy and Specialisation Committee, Professor Stuart Reid, reported on the Committee’s meeting in February.

He asked Council to accept the Committee’s recommendation to restore full approval to the Bristol School of Veterinary Science, which it did.

He also asked Council to note that 1 November 2012 will be the final enrolment date for all remaining RCVS Diplomas, and for Council to give their approval on a list of names for inclusion in the RCVS List of Recognised Specialists, which was given.

Finally, he asked for Council’s endorsement of the decision to award the Diploma of Fellowship to Mr David Burch, which was given.

The report was adopted by Council.

Planning and Resources Committee report

Treasurer Dr Bradley Viner, who chairs the Planning and Resources Committee, gave a report of the Committee’s meeting in February, which included, amongst other things, a time-frame for the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer, information about the disclosure of senior staff salaries (in bands), the approval of a Project Management Protocol, the Review of the Register of Veterinary Practice Premises (RVPP) fee and a decision to make copies of the Register of Members available to purchase, rather than distributed free to all members.

The paper was adopted with the exception of the recommendation to reduce the RVPP fee to £36, which Planning and Resources Committee will reconsider.

Preliminary Investigation Committee report

PIC Chairman Jill Nute gave a report on recent activities, including that, since its introduction, three complaints had been dealt with under the RCVS Health Protocol.

Since the last meeting of Council (November 2011), 186 complaints had been registered with the Professional Conduct Department.

She also noted that the College continued to assist the police and other authorities with a number of ongoing investigations.

Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) Preliminary Investigation Committee report

RVN PIC Chairman Lynne Hill reported that her Committee had considered one complaint and adjourned for further investigation.

Five new complaints about RVNs had been received. She reported that the Committee was making good use of the new Skype and teleconference facilities on the Lower Ground Floor.

Disciplinary Committee report

The Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, Professor Peter Lees, updated Council on recent cases heard by the Committee.

Information relating to Disciplinary Committee cases can be read online.

Election of Vice-President

Colonel Neil Smith was unanimously elected as Vice-President, taking effect from RCVS Day on 6 July.

Confirmation of Officers for 2012-13

Jacqui Molyneux was confirmed as President and Dr Jerry Davies as Vice-President for the next presidential year, which starts on 6 July.

RCVS Structure Review

In the afternoon of 1 March, Council met to discuss proposals from a group of six past-Presidents and two lay members of Council which considered a future revised structure of Council and Committees to ensure greater efficiency and effectiveness, particularly in view of the hope that the legislative reform order would be passed, making the two statutory committees (Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary) independent from Council.

There was lengthy discussion but no decisions were made and the Council and Officers will take the matter forward.

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