Complaints & concerns – information for veterinarians

On this page:
Who reviews concerns?
What rights does the veterinarian have?
What responsibilities does the veterinarian have?
Is the process confidential?
What advice and support is available?
Information about the complaints process
Concerns about a colleague
Raise a concern with us

Our role is to protect the public interest by ensuring veterinarians are competent to practise. We are responsible for receiving, investigating and hearing complaints about veterinarians.

One way we protect the public interest is by making sure veterinarians are operating in accordance with professional standards and the Code of Professional Conduct.

Any person can raise concerns with us. You can read more about how we deal with concerns and complaints in our Concerns about a vet page.

If you are concerned about the conduct, competence or health of another veterinarian, please see concerns about a colleague below.

Who reviews concerns?

  1. Conduct and competence concerns – The Notification Review Group or Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC) are responsible for considering issues and recommending outcomes.
  2. Health concerns - Concerns about a veterinarian’s health will normally be dealt with by the Registrar with advice from the Health Advisory Group.

Concerns about a veterinarian’s poor performance or possible health impairment are likely to be addressed under the Council’s competence or health processes.  

The Code of Professional Conduct and the Competency Standards set out the Councils expectations of professional conduct. When reviewing concerns, the Committees consider whether any breach of the Code of Conduct has occurred (and if so to what degree).

What rights does the veterinarian have?

Our processes are carried out in accordance with the principles of natural justice. This means the veterinarian has a right to be treated fairly, has a right to know what allegations have been made (and almost always by whom) and is given an opportunity to respond to the allegations. Veterinarians also have the right to have legal or personal support.

What responsibilities does the veterinarian have?

There is the responsibility under the Code of Professional Conduct for veterinarians to respond to complaints in a timely, honest and constructive manner.

For information on how to respond to a complaint please see our guidance on responding to a notification.  

Download the guidance

Is the process confidential?

Our processes are confidential to the parties involved and those considering the matter. We carry out our processes in accordance with the Privacy Act 1993.

Council staff and representatives do not provide identifying information to people who aren't involved in the assessment of the notifications received (although anonymised outcomes may be published on our website or summarised in our updates to the profession).

The Council is provided with a general outline of each case and the outcome.

If a veterinarian is seeking registration overseas and there any current inquiries underway in relation to their health, conduct or competence, the Registrar may not be able to issue a letter of good standing until the matter has closed or they may need to share the investigation on the letter (with your permission).

What advice and support is available?  

Where to get support if you are the subject of a complaint

 VCNZ and NZVA jointly maintain a contract with Vitae Counselling Services which provides, 24-hour freephone access (0508 664 981) to confidential free counselling services.
Veterinarians should contact their professional indemnity insurance provider, consult a trusted friend or colleague or seek legal advice when they receive a notification of concern or complaint. If the veterinarian or their employer has insurance (such as VPIS) they may be able to assist in the form of personal, legal or (limited) financial support.

We suggest that veterinarians notify their employer of the notification or complaint. In some cases an employer may provide support and access to advocacy assistance or offer mentoring or other help.  Employers do have responsibilities outlined in the Code of Professional Conduct for managing the veterinary activities of clinics and for providing support to their employees.

Information about the complaints process

Notification Review Group and Complaints Assessment Committee processes

For information on our processes, please download one of our information brochures.

Download the NRG information for veterinarians

Download the CAC information for veterinarians

Concerns about a colleague

The Professional Integrity section of the Code of Professional Conduct provides guidance on when veterinarians should notify the Council if they have concerns about another veterinarian.

Veterinarians are required to treat their colleagues with professionalism and respect, and are expected to settle any personal dispute with colleagues privately.

If you do have concerns about another veterinarian, we often find having a conversation about the matter will go a long way to resolving the problem. It helps to be respectful and courteous when raising the matter.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking directly with the veterinarian, or if you are unsure about what to do, you can contact us to discuss the matter.

Notify us

If you are concerned about the conduct, competence or health of another veterinarian, you can notify us of these concerns.

We are usually unable to act on anonymous complaints. This is because the principles of natural justice require the veterinarian to see information being considered by the Council. If you are concerned about this, please get in touch with us.

If you want to raise a  concern about another veterinarian. Please get in contact with us at [email protected] or 04 473 9600.