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Disciplinary Committee dismisses charges against Herts vet

19 April 2012

Please note
This is an archived news story. Mr Tomosz Nazimek MRCVS remains on the RCVS Register of Members and he is therefore currently entitled to practise as a veterinary surgeon in the UK.

The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons yesterday (18 April 2012) dismissed charges of serious professional misconduct against a veterinary surgeon and former employee of Medivet.

Tomasz Nazimek was alleged to have charged for the use of a blood pressure monitor during an exploratory laparotomy on a cat called Mitzi, whilst working at Medivet in June 2009, when he knew, or ought to have known, it had not been used.

Despite giving serious consideration to all of 'L’s evidence, the Committee found it of limited value.

Despite his previous signed statements to the contrary, Mr Nazimek admitted at the outset of the hearing that no blood pressure monitor had in fact been used.

Accordingly, the Committee only had to establish whether Mr Nazimek himself had entered the fee for its use into Mitzi’s records and, if so, whether this was done dishonestly.

The alleged incident came to light as a result of a covert investigation into Medivet conducted by the television production company Fulcrum TV in 2008/9, and subsequently commissioned by the BBC and broadcast in July 2010 as part of the Panorama programme ‘It Shouldn’t Happen at a Vets’’.

Former dental nurse 'L' was employed by Fulcrum TV as an undercover reporter to work as a ‘trainee veterinary nurse’ at Medivet, in order to record audio and video footage of her experiences there.

The case against Mr Nazimek was based partly on a conversation overheard by 'L' following the operation on Mitzi, where she maintained that Guy Carter, a senior Medivet partner and veterinary surgeon, told Mr Nazimek (who was sitting at the practice computer typing up Mitzi’s records) not to forget to include a fee for use of the blood pressure monitor.

However, 'L’s equipment had not recorded this exchange, due to a fault, and her video diary of that day’s events was not put in evidence before the Committee. 'L' also accepted in evidence that she had not actually seen who entered the fee into the records, but had assumed it was Mr Nazimek.

Despite giving serious consideration to all of 'L’s evidence, the Committee found it of limited value.

The Committee considered the statements signed by Mr Nazimek, but prepared for him by the Medivet senior management in December 2009 and October 2010, which stated that he had used the monitor, consulted Mr Carter about charging for it and then added the fee himself.

The Committee found Mr Nazimek’s oral evidence to be persuasive, his manner open and his responses under cross-examination frank.

The Committee also considered a third statement provided to the College (September 2011), in which Mr Nazimek recalled that Mr Carter had priced up the operation himself, but not asked for his input.

When questioned about the discrepancies in his statements, Mr Nazimek told the Committee that he had confused different operations and now knew his earlier statements to be wrong.

He indicated that he had been under pressure from his then employers to sign the statements, that his attempts to change them were ignored by Medivet’s managing partners and that he was depressed and under stress at the time.

He was not told that the statements could be in relation to charges against him, or that he was entitled to legal advice when discussing them with his employers.

The Committee found Mr Nazimek’s oral evidence to be persuasive, his manner open and his responses under cross-examination frank.

In the absence of satisfactory and reliable evidence to the contrary, and in view of supportive testimonials provided from his current employer and former colleagues as to his honesty and integrity, the Committee found Mr Nazimek’s repeated assertion that he did not make a charge for the monitor “entirely plausible” and believed that he told the truth.

Nevertheless, the Committee emphasised that a charge for the monitor had been entered into the records when no such device had been used, which it regarded as unacceptable.

Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Chairman Professor Peter Lees said: “The Committee is not satisfied by the evidence so that it is sure that [Mr Nazimek] entered into the records for Mitzi a charge for the blood pressure monitor. [It] believes that [Mr Nazimek] told the truth when giving his evidence and the character references support his honesty.

“In these circumstances, it is not necessary to consider the charges further and the allegations against [Mr Nazimek] are dismissed.”

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