The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has launched 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 conduct.

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, an organisation that already offers general support services to veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.

It started off as VetSupport NI (Northern Ireland), and has expanded to include VetSupport Scotland followed by VetSupport Ireland.

Under the banner of 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.

Support for vets

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.”