2018 June - From the Hospital Inspector’s car
As you would expect, I often receive information when I’m out and about talking to veterinarians and others across New South Wales and the office receives emails and phone calls about activities that may lead to further enquiries.
The Board has a statutory function
The Board must investigate complaints and facts are the building blocks to a solid investigative process, leading to decisions in accordance with the legislation.
The internet is also a valuable tool - Google, Facebook, websites and blogs may provide useful information.
Other parts of the puzzle can come from well established relationships with organisations such as racing authorities, NSW Health, AQIS, NSW Agriculture, APVMA and others.
The aim of this work is to understand exactly what is happening in our profession from a regulatory sense, get ahead of the issue and take appropriate action before matters have the opportunity to adversely affect animal welfare, the public or the veterinary profession.
I work very closely with the Board and the Registrar and we go about this work behind the scenes and it is happening on an ongoing basis. In fact, since I stepped down as the Registrar several years ago, I have been more proactive promoting recognition by the profession of the Board’s statutory functions and ensuring compliance.
Inspections of licensed veterinary hospitals may be perceived as my only role with the Board and of course they are subject to routine inspections, as are mobile veterinary businesses.
However, some may not be aware of the powers under section 91 of the Veterinary Practice Act 2003
Powers under section 91 of the Veterinary Practice Act 2003
An Inspector has a number of powers which include for example:
1. Authority to enter any premises at any reasonable time which the inspector has reasonable cause to believe any person is doing or has done a restricted act of veterinary science... 'veterinary premises' is defined as; public space, any land, vehicle, vessel or aircraft.
2. An authorised inspector may make inspections, collect and take away samples, take photographs, seize and take away records.
3. It is an offence to obstruct, hinder or refuse to assist without reasonable excuse - penalties apply.
I have used these powers in the past (when investigating serious misconduct) although it is not common.
I am very thankful to work in a profession where I receive remarkable support. This means the Board can go about its regulatory functions with a level of regulation that is proportionate to the risk and with an assurance of quiet compliance.
Hospital Inspector / Investigator