This page looks at the issues for people considering making a complaint against a colleague.
There may be occasions where you feel that an employer, employee or colleague is acting in a way which is unethical, illegal, immoral or grossly incompetent. Examples might include:
- Lying to clients
- Charging for work that has not been done
- Failing to ensure 24 hour cover
- Misuse of medicines
- False certification
- Working while under the influence of drink or drugs
- Insurance fraud
- Physical mistreatment of patients.
This is of course political dynamite and carries all the potential for destroying working relationships. It needs to be handled extremely sensitively.
Understandably, people are reluctant to make a complaint in these situations due to fears about:
- misunderstanding the position
- being over-sensitive
- jeopardising their employment prospects
- not wanting to “rat on” a colleague
- breaking client or commercial confidentiality
- ending up in trouble themselves
Have a quiet talk
If you feel that an employer, employee or colleague is behaving illegally or unethically your first course of action should be to discuss the matter with them calmly and in a non-accusatory manner. It may after all, be you who has misunderstood what you think you have seen. See managing conflict for some tips.
If you can’t talk to them, get advice from others
If you feel unable to have this conversation, or if the outcome has not satisfied you, it may help to talk to someone else about it:
- A colleague
- Veterinary Defence Society
- The RCVS Code of Conduct: Whistleblowing has further information for those considering that route
If addiction and/or substance abuse is involved
If you feel that an employer, employee or colleague is abusing alcohol or drugs, again, your first course of action should be to discuss the matter with them. Alternatively, or if you are still concerned, you can contact Vetlife Health Support in complete confidence. Vetlife Health Support helps people in the veterinary community to combat problems including alcohol and drug abuse and its’ support can often help people to avoid disciplinary action.
Get some emotional support
If you feel distressed or depressed by the situation in which you find yourself, you can ring Vetlife Helpline on 0303 040 2551 or register to send anonymous emails to the service – your email address will be hidden. Friendly people with personal experience of the veterinary profession are there to talk to you in complete confidence.
- RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons
- RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses
- Veterinary Defence Society
- BVA Legal Helpline BVA members only, you will need your membership number ready
- BVNA Legal Helpline All BVNA members have access to a free legal helpline, manned by legal professionals who will answer questions in relation to any subject, not just professional issues. If you are a BVNA member and you need to ring the legal helpline, telephone the BVNA office on 01279 408644 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will put you in touch with the right person. You will need to have your BVNA membership number ready when using the legal helpline.