The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) disciplinary committee has decided that “no further action” was required in the case of a Glamorgan-based vet who was imprisoned after being convicted of dangerous driving.
Simona-Claudia Panait appeared before the committee on 25 and 26 February 2019 facing one charge. The charge was that on 3 April 2018, at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court, she was convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving for which she was sentenced to 10 months in prison, disqualified from driving for 41 months and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £140.
At the hearing Panait admitted to the charge against her which related to an accident on 15 May 2017 in which she lost control of her car and collided with a vehicle on the other side of the road, causing serious injuries to herself and life-changing injuries to the other driver. The committee subsequently found the charge to be proved.
The committee then considered whether the charge made her unfit to practise veterinary surgery. In doing so, it took into account the fact that Panait was convicted of a serious crime which resulted in serious harm to another and for which she received a custodial sentence. The RCVS decided that the criminal conviction and the custodial sentence “fell far below the standard expected of a veterinary surgeon” and therefore rendered her “unfit to practise veterinary surgery”.
In considering her sanction, the committee heard directly from Panait who attended the hearing having been released from prison on licence.
Stuart Drummond, chairing the committee, said: “After the submissions the respondent spoke directly to the committee. She was understandably emotional and was remorseful and apologetic. She acknowledged that she had made a mistake and apologise for bringing the profession into disrepute. To the committee her sense of personal responsibility or shame was palpable.”
Both the victim and Panait but accepted it was a single isolated incident, and that Panait had made efforts to avoid repetition of the incident by undertaking further driving instruction and recognised that she had displayed full insight and remorse. The RCVS also considered the many testimonials from colleagues and clients and that she had received significant support from her employers.
Drummond added: “The Committee came to the conclusion that this was one of those exceptionally unfortunate and sad cases where it is appropriate and proportionate to take no further action. The respondent has insight and is deeply remorseful and has accepted full responsibility for what has happened.
“In the circumstances of this case the Committee determined that the public interest has been met by the finding that the respondent’s conviction renders her unfit to practise. The Committee was of the view that to impose any sanction now would be disproportionate.”