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Disciplinary Committee removes Great Yarmouth-based vet from Register

27 June 2018

The RCVS Disciplinary Committee has directed the Registrar to remove a Great-Yarmouth-based veterinary surgeon from the Register for a number of alcohol-related issues and clinical failings.

The hearing into Ms Judith Lesley Kay took place between Monday 18 June and Thursday 21 June 2018, and proceeded in Ms Kay’s absence as she failed to attend the hearing in person, despite having sufficient notice of it.

The hearing concerned a number of charges relating to her practising while under the influence of alcohol, breaching undertakings to the College to abstain completely from alcohol, alleged serious clinical failings in relation to the treatment of two dogs, Izzy and Alfie, and making disparaging remarks to a client about other veterinary surgeons (a complete list of charges is available).

In relation to the first charge, namely that on 14 September 2016, while a locum veterinary surgeon at Haven Veterinary Surgeons Group, Great Yarmouth, she was under the influence of alcohol, the Committee heard from Kelly Lawson, a veterinary nurse at the practice. Ms Lawson told how on different occasions Miss Kay had appeared to need more assistance than expected, was overly friendly in speaking to clients, was unable to prepare a syringe correctly, and finally, on 14 September 2016, was found asleep in the car with an open can of alcohol by her feet.

"The Committee considered that the only appropriate sanction is that of removal from the Register. Such a sanction is required to protect animals and to send a clear message to the Respondent, and to all veterinary surgeons, of the unacceptability of the conduct identified in this case. Such conduct undermines public confidence in the profession and fails to uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour," Alistair Barr, Disciplinary Committee Vice-Chair 

The Committee also heard from a number of other witnesses from the Haven Veterinary Surgeons Group who also provided evidence of Ms Kay’s behaviour on the day in question. Following deliberations, the Committee found the first charge to be proved.

The second charge related to the breaching of undertakings which Ms Kay had given to the College to the effect that she would abstain completely from alcohol. When samples were taken on 3 August 2017, however, it was found that she had been consuming alcohol in the recent past. The Committee was therefore satisfied that the second charge was proved.

The Committee then turned to the third charge, namely that on 17 March 2017 Ms Kay had displayed a number of clinical failings when performing surgery on a cocker spaniel, Izzy, belonging to Mrs Debbie Coe. The Committee found the majority of the charges proved, amongst others that she failed to obtain informed consent for surgery, performed surgery in her own home when it was not registered as a veterinary practice and it was not possible to ensure sterility, and that she failed to provide suitable post-operative analgesia to Izzy.

The College then turned to the fourth charge, which concerned her treatment of Mrs Coe’s other dog, Alife, a Miniature Schnauzer. The charge was that on 17 March 2017, Ms Kay euthanased Alfie in an inappropriate manner, and used a controlled drug without having a registered veterinary premise from which to dispense it. After hearing from an expert witness the Committee found the charges proved.

Finally, the Committee heard evidence relating to the fifth charge, namely that in or around July 2016, Ms Kay made disparaging remarks to Mrs Coe about other veterinary surgeons who had treated Alfie, and that between 17 March and 31 March 2017 she had sent inappropriate texts and voicemail messages to Mrs Coe about the treatment of her dogs and payments owed in relation to this. The Committee thought there was not enough evidence in relation to the voicemails, but found the remainder of the charge proved.

Taking all into account, the Committee found that Ms Kay’s conduct had fallen far short of the standard expected of a member of the veterinary profession and concluded that her conduct clearly amounts to disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.

Alistair Barr, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee considered that the only appropriate sanction is that of removal from the Register. Such a sanction is required to protect animals and to send a clear message to the Respondent, and to all veterinary surgeons, of the unacceptability of the conduct identified in this case. Such conduct undermines public confidence in the profession and fails to uphold proper standards of conduct and behaviour.

“Accordingly, the Committee has decided that removal from the Register is the only appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case.”

Ms Kay has 28 days from being informed about the Disciplinary Committee’s decision to make an appeal to the Privy Council.

Please note:  this news story is to assist with understanding the circumstances of the case and the Committee's decision, it does not form part of the findings or decision. The Committee's full findings and decision is the only authoritative document.

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