DC reprimands Midlands-based vet for alcohol-related incidents

12 August 2019

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Disciplinary Committee has issued a reprimand and warning as to future conduct to a Midlands-based veterinary surgeon 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 Disciplinary Committee hearing for Dr Lynn Jo Ann Davies MRCVS took place on Wednesday 7 August 2019 in relation to five charges against her, and was a resumed hearing of an inquiry which was originally adjourned on 23 January 2018 and thereafter on 30 July 2018. The decision was made, at both of the 2018 hearings, to postpone the final decision on sanction having regard to undertakings which the respondent was prepared to enter into.

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.

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 Dr Davies’ first Disciplinary Committee hearing on 23 January 2018 she admitted all five charges against her and also accepted that her conduct was disgraceful conduct 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.

At the conclusion of its hearing on 23 January 2018 the Committee, having considered both aggravating and mitigating circumstances, decided to postpone its decision regarding sanction 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 on her behalf that she wished to return to practise and the Committee reviewed evidence that she provided to demonstrate she had complied with her undertakings.

“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," Ian Green, Disciplinary Committee Chair. 

However, the Committee retained concerns about her return to practise with regards to her ability to receive support from a mentor. The Committee therefore required Dr Davies 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.

The Committee also required the continuation of the requirements for abstinence from alcohol and the programme of blood and hair testing.

A further requirement of the Committee was that Dr Davies 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 then directed that the hearing be postponed for a further 12 months.

On Wednesday 7 August 2019 the Disciplinary 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 also heard from Dr Davies’ appointed veterinary mentor who provided a statement that concluded that she no longer needed monitoring or supervision.

The Committee then considered what sanction to impose on Dr Davies, 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 respondent must understand that she has been given an opportunity to prove that, for the remainder of her time in practice, she can meet the high standards expected of all registered veterinary surgeons from both other practitioners and from members of the public who entrust the care and treatment of their animals to members of this profession,” Ian Green. 

Ian Green, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, 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.”

The Committee therefore 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.

“The respondent must understand that she has been given an opportunity to prove that, for the remainder of her time in practice, she can meet the high standards expected of all registered veterinary surgeons from both other practitioners and from members of the public who entrust the care and treatment of their animals to members of this profession,” added Ian Green.

Please note: this news story is published on behalf of the Disciplinary Committee with the aim of helping the public and profession understand the case and the Committee's decision and tt does not form part of the decision itself. The Committee's full facts and findings are the only authoritative documentation. 

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