Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee removes Northamptonshire-based nurse from register

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee has directed the Registrar to remove a Northamptonshire-based veterinary nurse from the Register.

The disciplinary case against Hannah Wilde RVN took place between Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 March 2018. Ms Wilde was not present, but she expressed a clear wish for the proceedings to continue in her absence.

There were five charges against Ms Wilde, the first three relating to criminal convictions and the rest concerning allegations that Ms Wilde had held herself out as an RVN whilst she was off the register for non-payment, and that she had failed to declare a conviction when applying to rejoin the register subsequently. In summary, these were:

  1. On 28 September 2015 she was convicted of stealing three packets of Tramadol to the value of £45 from Milton Keynes Veterinary Group.
  2. On 20 April 2017 she was convicted on two counts of issuing a false prescription with the intention of being dispensed Tramadol.
  3. On 15 June 2017 she was convicted of numerous counts of making false prescriptions, as well as stealing £108.47 worth of scratch cards and cigarettes from Premier Queensway Stores.
  4. Between 5 January 2015 and 25 August 2015 she held herself out as a registered veterinary nurse when she was in fact not on the Register, and worked at two separate veterinary practices during that time; and that she was therefore either (i) being dishonest, or (ii) ought to have known that she was not registered.
  5. That on or around 13 April 2016, she made a written representation on an application form for restoration to the Register that she had no criminal convictions, when on 28 September 2015 she had been convicted of burglary and that conviction was not spent; and that she was (i) either dishonest, or (ii) ought to have known that the representation was false.

Ms Wilde admitted charges one to three, and the Committee were also provided with copies of the convictions. The Committee therefore found charges one to three proven.

In considering the fourth charge, they took into account Ms Wilde’s submission that she believed the submission of a cheque would be enough to restore her to the register. The Committee noted that she had restored herself to the register in the past, however, and so would have been aware that a cheque alone was not sufficient, and she had also been sent a restoration form following a telephone call with the College on 2 January 2015. The Committee therefore found that Ms Wilde was being dishonest, and determined that charge four(i) was proven.

In considering the fifth charge, the Committee considered Ms Wilde’s submission that a probation officer had told her that her conviction was spent and that she need not declare it. The Committee believed this to be highly unlikely, however, especially as Ms Wilde had provided no evidence from the probation service to support this assertion. The Committee therefore found her to be dishonest, and charge five(i) to be proven.

The question of whether the facts amounted to serious professional misconduct was, however, solely a matter for the Committee’s judgement. It determined that Ms Wilde’s conduct in relation to charges one to three had fallen far short of the standard expected of an RVN and her conduct clearly renders her unfit to practise as an RVN.

Similarly, the Committee found that Ms Wilde’s conduct had fallen far short of the standard expected of an RVN in respect of charges four to five, and found her conduct clearly amounted to disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.

The Committee then turned to the question of sanction, firstly in respect of charges one to three. It considered some testimonials that spoke on Ms Wilde’s behalf, but noted that they were all unsigned and none made any reference to the charges against her. The Committee also bore in mind that Ms Wilde had no previous disciplinary history and was apologetic and remorseful, and that no harm had come to animals or humans by her actions.

It also considered, however, that her behaviour had been repeated and sustained, that she had used her knowledge as an RVN to forge prescriptions, and that she had breached the trust of her employers by stealing from them. The Committee therefore decided that removal from the register was the only appropriate sanction.

When considering sanction in respect of charges four and five, the Committee took into account that Ms Wilde had difficult personal circumstances and was sincerely apologetic. Using her title of RVN to gain employment when she was not on the register, however, and breaching the trust of the College by making a false declaration, were considered serious aggravating features. It therefore considered that removal from the register was again the only appropriate sanction.

Judith Way, who chaired the Committee and spoke on its behalf, said: “Ms Wilde’s criminal behaviour failed to maintain public confidence in the veterinary nursing profession and it failed to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

“She also knew that she was not registered as an RVN, yet she held herself out as being so and obtained employment in that capacity. In holding herself out in this manner she potentially put her colleagues at risk. She could have compromised the practices that employed her in the capacity of an RVN as their insurance had the potential to be invalidated.

“Ms Wilde was also dishonest with the RCVS when she completed the application for restoration of registered veterinary nurses’ form by stating that she had no convictions. Following this application, Ms Wilde went on to commit the seven further offences (from December 2016 to March 2017) for which she was later convicted in the Northampton and Leicester Magistrates’ Courts. The committee considered that such conduct falls far short of the standards expected of an RVN.”

Ms Wilde may appeal the Committee’s decision within 28 days of being informed of it. If no appeal is received, the Committee’s judgement takes effect.

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