Concerns about Veterinary Surgeons  

NOTIFYING THE VETERINARY SURGEONS BOARD OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA OF CONCERNS ABOUT THE CONDUCT OR COMPETENCE OF VETERINARY SURGEONS

The Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia (VSBSA) administers the Veterinary Practice Act 2003 (VP Act). One of the roles of the VSBSA is to regulate the professional conduct and competence of veterinary surgeons, in order to maintain a high standard of service for the community.

If you wish to notify the VSBSA of any matter of concern regarding the conduct or competence of a veterinary surgeon, please complete a Notification Form (Form 9). If you are unable, for example by reason of disability, to complete the form, you can call us on 8359 3334.

Please note that the VSBSA has no power under the VP Act to assess notifications relating to professional fees or charges for veterinary medicines or products.

Please also note that the VSBSA has no power under the VP Act to order veterinary surgeons to pay compensation to any party.

The steps involved in processing and investigating a notification are as follows:
  1. The Registrar of the VSBSA (the Registrar) will consider whether the notification raises concerns with respect to the conduct or competence of a veterinary surgeon.
  2. The Registrar will confirm receipt of the notification and seek further information from you, if required.
  3. The Registrar will provide a copy of the notification to the veterinary surgeon and ask the veterinary surgeon to respond to the issues raised. If other veterinary surgeons are involved in the matter, the Registrar will request relevant information from those veterinary surgeons. Copies of patient records will also be requested.
  4. You may be contacted by VSBSA staff to provide further information or relevant documentation.
  5. If there is proper cause for disciplinary action against the veterinary surgeon:
    1. the matter may be resolved with the veterinary surgeon (for example, the veterinary surgeon may enter into an undertaking with the VSBSA to do a course of continuing education); or
    2. the Registrar may lay a complaint before the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) alleging that the veterinary surgeon is guilty of unprofessional conduct.
  6. If a complaint is laid by the Registrar before SACAT, you will be notified and may be asked to attend a hearing to give evidence.
  7. If SACAT determines that the veterinary surgeon is guilty of unprofessional conduct, sanctions may be imposed under the VP Act, ranging from censure to disqualification from registration.

    Unprofessional conduct is defined in the VP Act to include:
    1. improper or unethical conduct in relation to professional practice;
    2. incompetence or negligence in relation to the provision of veterinary treatment;
    3. a contravention of or failure to comply with -
      1. a provision of the VP Act; or
      2. a code of conduct or professional standards prepared or endorsed by the Board under the VP Act; and
    4. conduct that constitutes an offence punishable by imprisonment for one year or more under some other VP Act or law.
Due to the confidentiality provision of the VP Act, the VSBSA will not be able to disclose to you information about the progress of assessment of a notification, details of and reasons for the outcome of assessment, information about any subsequent investigation into the matter or the details or contents of any disciplinary action taken against a veterinary surgeon. However, if conditions are imposed on a veterinary surgeon's registration or a veterinary surgeon is removed from the register(s), that information can be disclosed as a matter of public record.

If you are aggrieved by the conduct of a veterinary surgeon, you have the right, pursuant to section 62(1)(c) of the VP Act, to personally lay a complaint before SACAT setting out matters that are alleged to constitute grounds for disciplinary action against a veterinary surgeon. If you lay a disciplinary complaint against a veterinary surgeon before SACAT, SACAT will inquire into the subject matter of your complaint unless it is considered to be frivolous or vexatious. A disciplinary hearing would be held at which you will be required to present evidence in support of your complaint.

Information about lodging a professional disciplinary application (complaint) to SACAT is available at http://www.sacat.sa.gov.au/application-form.

Notification Form