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Kent vet struck off for fraud conviction and ‘clinical failings’

A Kent veterinary surgeon has been removed from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Registrar after he was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud in court and for a number of clinical failings.

The hearing for David Edward Smith took place from 19 February before coming to a close on Thursday 15 March 2018.

Smith had previously been convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud at Maidstone Crown Court in June 2016 for which he was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment in July 2016 and this formed one of the charges against him.

There were also a number of charges related to his treatment of five different animals while in practice at the Lakeview Veterinary Centre in Folkestone, Kent. In summary these charges are:

  • In relation to a Clydesdale mare named Grace on 14 August 2014 he failed to perform an adequate examination and/or undertake sufficient investigation and/or take a history of her; that after his initial visit to Grace on that day he failed to respond adequately to the owner’s telephone reports that Grace had deteriorated and/or failed to improve; and, that he failed to make adequate clinical records for Grace.
  • Between 29 September 2014 and 31 January 2015, in relation to a Labradoodle named Holly, he failed to keep adequate clinical records.
  • In relation to a cat named Maisey the allegations were that he failed to examine and investigate the cat adequately, he made a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus and gave insulin to administer to the cat without first undertaking the minimum investigation required, failed to keep adequate clinical records and sent an incorrect, misleading and dishonest statement to the RCVS regarding his treatment of Maisey. All charges date between 30 October and 19 December 2014.
  • In relation to a cat called Comet the allegation was that between 1 April and 17 April 2015 he failed to keep adequate clinical records and failed to respond adequately and appropriately to concerns raised by the owner.
  • Regarding a Yorkshire Terrier with diabetes named Poppy the allegation was that in two emergency out-of-hours calls made by Poppy’s owner to Mr Smith in April 2015 regarding the dog’s condition, he failed to recommend veterinary treatment or keep adequate clinical records. Furthermore, when the owner attended the practice following the two calls and the death of Poppy, he attributed the care to another member of the practice and failed to communicate effectively with the owner.

Having heard from a number of witnesses, including Mr Smith, and having received representations from Mr Smith in relation to the above charges, the Committee found almost all of the charges proven, with the exception of those relating to Mr Smith’s alleged conversation with Poppy’s owner at the practice following her death.

Cerys Jones, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee was particularly concerned because the dishonesty went to the heart of Mr Smith’s responsibilities as a veterinary surgeon.

“His registration as a veterinary surgeon enabled him to take part in the conspiracy, and that role involved him conducting certified examinations on animals and supplying drugs for administration to animals. Reliable and honest certification is a vital element of the veterinary surgeon’s public role.”

The Committee said that the case demonstrated that Mr Smith’s lack of treatment or his inappropriate treatment of these animals caused harm and that in some regards, for example the writing of accurate and contemporaneous clinical notes, Mr Smith demonstrated a total disrespect for the Code of Professional Conduct.

The Committee went on to say: “Further, he deliberately lied to his regulator. He demonstrated deep-seated attitudinal issues including a misplaced belief in his own abilities and had no insight or commitment to do anything different in the future. In those circumstances the likelihood of repetition was significant in the Committee’s view.”

In relation to the conviction the Committee also directed that the Registrar remove Mr Smith from the Register.

Mr Smith has 28 days from being informed of the Committee’s decision to make an appeal against it.

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