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Committee reprimands Midlands vet for alcohol-related incidents

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Disciplinary Committee has issued a reprimand and warning about future conduct to a Midlands vet for “serious professional misconduct” in relation to drink driving convictions and being under the influence of alcohol whilst on duty as a veterinary surgeon.

The hearing for Dr Davies took place on Wednesday 7 August 2019 in relation to five charges against her, and was adjourned twice, in January and July 2018.

The first two charges against Dr Davies related to convictions for drink driving on March 2014 and October 2015 for which she received driving bans for 17 months and 45 months respectively.

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The third charge related to her breaching a number of undertakings she had entered into as part of the College’s Health Protocol, including her consuming alcohol on four occasions between May 2015 and January 2016 and missing a pre-arranged appointment with a consultant psychiatrist appointed.

The fourth and fifth charges related to being under the influence of alcohol on three occasions while she was on duty as a veterinary surgeon in December 2016 which was also in breach of her undertakings under the Health Protocol.

At the first hearing, on 23 January 2018 she admitted all five charges against her and also accepted that her conduct was “disgraceful” in a professional respect. The Committee accepted her admissions and found, with the exception of one allegation, that her conduct was “disgraceful” in a professional respect.

The Committee decided to postpone its decision regarding sanctions for six months on the basis of Dr Davies’ entering into undertakings, including not to practise veterinary surgery and to remain abstinent from alcohol during the period of postponement and to undergo blood and hair tests for alcohol consumption every two months.

At the resumed hearing on 30 July 2018, Dr Davies’ Counsel submitted that she wished to return to practise, the Committee reviewed evidence that she provided to demonstrate she had complied with her undertakings.

The Committee retained concerns about her return to practise with regards to her ability to receive support from a mentor, ruling that Dr Davies had to identify a veterinary surgeon who would agree to act as her mentor, noting that the mentor would have to be acceptable to the College as someone suitable to act in that capacity.

A further requirement of the Committee was that she should make a disclosure to any new employer of her appearances before the Committee in January 2018 and in July 2018 and of the decisions it made.

The final requirement of the Committee was that the respondent should not accept a ‘sole charge position’ at any time during her employment during this next period of postponement of sanction. The Committee directed that the hearing be postponed for a further 12 months.

On 7 August the Committee resumed its inquiry, Dr Davies submitted documentary proof and medical records to demonstrate she had complied with all her undertakings given at the last hearing. The Committee heard from Dr Davies’ appointed veterinary mentor who provided a statement that concluded that she no longer needed monitoring or supervision.

The Committee considered what sanction to impose, having regard to the nature of the charges which she admitted at the original hearing and also considering the mitigating factors submitted by her Counsel.

The regulator then decided that the most proportionate sanction was for Dr Davies to be reprimanded as to the conduct she admitted at previous hearings and that she be warned as to her future conduct.

Ian Green, Committee chair, said: “The view of the Committee is that the respondent has to date overcome her addiction to alcohol and, given that her competence as a practising veterinary surgeon is not disputed, that she should therefore be permitted to return to her chosen profession.

“However, in the judgement of this Committee the seriousness of the offences to which the Respondent has pleaded guilty means that a sanction of “No Further Action” cannot be justified.”

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