2016 May - Impairment, self reporting and the Board's Health Program

An impairment is defined in the Veterinary Practice Act 2003 (s 4(3)) as any physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder which detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect the person’s physical or mental capacity to practise veterinary science. If you have suffered an impairment during the return period for registration (1 April to 31 March) or are able to update the Board regarding an existing notification you need to inform the Board via the Annual Return. 

The Board appreciates the sensitivity of any notification regarding health issues and has a number of processes in place to ensure the confidentiality of these disclosures is maintained.

The other concern often expressed by veterinarians is an ability to continue to practise.  Please be assured that the goal of the Health Program for Veterinarians is to enable veterinarians to work their way through their health issues with the support of suitably qualified professionals and the Board. The Board has adopted the procedures outlined in the Doctors’ Health Program provided by the Medical Council of NSW to achieve this goal. You can find more information about the Board’s Health Program for Veterinarians under Resources, Guidelines.

Whilst the Annual Return is available to declare or update the Board regarding any possible impairment it is also important to note that you are required to notify the Board as soon as possible if you suffer from an impairment.  This can be achieved any time of the year by contacting the Registrar.

Importantly, it is the Board’s preference that issues of impairment or possible impairment are addressed outside of the Board’s complaints processes and disciplinary powers where possible.  Again, if you are unsure please do not hesitate to contact the Registrar to discuss your circumstances.

If you are concerned about a veterinary friend or colleague you can call and speak to the Registrar without using any names. The processes can be explained to you so you are better able to encourage the individual to understand the benefits of self reporting and the Board’s Health program.