Welcome to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' website for animal owners

How we investigate complaints


There are five stages to our complaints procedure:


1. Receiving a complaint

The first stage in our complaints and disciplinary process is for us to receive a completed complaint form about a named individual (a veterinary surgeon or, from 1 April 2011, a registered veterinary nurse).

The College receives between 700 and 800 complaints a year and we have a legal duty to consider them all.

If you would like to make a complaint, please read the ‘I want to make a complaint’ section, via the link on the left.


2. Assessment

We consider whether there is potential for a case against the veterinary surgeon.

If there is the potential, generally the veterinary surgeon is asked to comment on your complaint.  Comments may also be sought from any other veterinary surgeon who has been involved in the case.


3. Case examination

Once we have a response to the complaint and other relevant information, generally a veterinary surgeon and a lay member consider whether the complaint is sufficiently serious to refer to the Preliminary Investigation (PI) Committee.


4. Preliminary Investigation Committee

We consider whether there is a realistic prospect of proving a case against a veterinary surgeon (about 30% of complaints are considered by the PI Committee). 

Decision-making is guided by the protocols within the document titled 'Processing a complaint', which can be downloaded from the 'Related documents' box, top right. This document offers guidance on the complaints procedure for Preliminary Investigation Committee Members and RCVS Staff.


5. Disciplinary Committee

 The complaint against the veterinary surgeon is heard in public.


Additional information

The Preliminary Investigation Committee and the RVN PI Committee reports three times a year to the RCVS Council and VN Council respectively. The PI Committee Reports include brief details of certain complaints resolved by the Committee and are available to download from the main RCVS website. (This link will open in a new window.)

PI Committee Investigators are veterinary surgeons who are independent of the PI Committee and carry out investigations, that may include interviews and visits, following which the Investigator reports to the PI Committee. The Investigators work in accordance with the PIC Investigators' Manual. The PIC Investigator's Manual is available to download the from 'Related documents' box, top right.  

Disciplinary Committee reports of public hearings include details of the charge(s), findings and judgments against the veterinary surgeon involved. More information on Disciplinary Hearings can be found on the main RCVS website. (This link will open in a new window.)

Hard copies of the above documents may also be requested from the Professional Conduct Department (020 7202 0789 or profcon@rcvs.org.uk), or can be downloaded from the 'Related documents' box, top right.

Further information about alleged negligence and serious professional misconduct is available to download from 'Related documents' box, top right, and more information about veterinary professional fees can be accessed on the main RCVS website.

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