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Northamptonshire-based veterinary surgeon not guilty of serious professional misconduct.

13 December 2017

The RCVS Disciplinary Committee has found a Northamptonshire-based veterinary surgeon not guilty of serious professional misconduct.

The hearing against Dr Gabor Nemes MRCVS took place from Monday 4 December to Wednesday 6 December 2017. There were two charges against Dr Nemes, the first being that he had posted comments on social media about another veterinary surgeon, his employer, Dr Toth, which were offensive and/or derogatory and/or inappropriate. The second charge was that Dr Nemes had posted said comments without having sufficient regard to maintaining their confidentiality and/or privacy.

Dr Nemes admitted the charges, though he did inform the Committee that his admission with respect to the second charge was caveated by the proposition that the comments were posted in private messages on Facebook with a limited membership, namely employees of Healers Veterinary Centre (Dr Toth’s practice).

The Committee noted the Respondent’s admissions as to the charges raised against him and pronounced the facts found proved.

In relation to the first charge, the Committee found that the comments on social media were, without a doubt, highly unprofessional. They included offensive language, were gratuitously personal against Dr Toth, and were made within an online chat which included junior lay staff, all employed by Dr Toth.

This behaviour was seen to directly contravene a numbers of parts of the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct, in particular Paragraph 5.3 that states: “Veterinary Surgeons and Veterinary Nurses should not speak or write disparagingly about another Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Nurse.”

In relation to the second charge, the Committee found that Dr Nemes had paid no regard to maintaining the confidentiality and/or privacy of his malicious and damaging entries to the chat.

At the outset of his evidence, Dr Nemes admitted that the proven charges amounted to serious professional misconduct. The Committee noted however that the question of whether he was guilty of serious professional misconduct or not was in fact a matter for it to decide, notwithstanding his admission.

The Committee considered the fact that the period of time that Dr Nemes was involved in making postings was effectively about two weeks, that his involvement followed his wife’s dismissal from employment (representing a breach of Dr Nemes’ resignation conditions), and that he was very stressed at the time. It also considered Dr Nemes’ point that he had never anticipated that Dr Toth would see the Facebook Messenger conversation, and that the relevant RCVS supporting guidance to the Code concerning good practice when using social media and online networking forums was only published in late November 2014 when Dr Nemes’ involvement in the conversation was virtually at an end.

In summing up, Ian Green, Chair of the Committee, said: “The Committee carefully considered the circumstances surrounding the Facebook Messenger entries which the Respondent posted from 13 November 2014. It noted that at the time he had handed in his resignation, morale at the practice was very low. The Facebook Messenger chat site had been started amongst the receptionist/animal carers. A perusal of the entries before the Respondent joined on 13 November 2014 demonstrates that morale was low among that group.

“…Notwithstanding the nature of the remarks posted on the Facebook Messenger, which the Committee deplores, it has reached the conclusion that, whilst the Respondent’s behaviour amounts to misconduct and falls short of the standards expected of a member of the veterinary profession, it does not amount to serious misconduct and does not fall far short. In the circumstances it has reached the unusual conclusion that, notwithstanding the Respondent’s admission, the appropriate finding is that he is not guilty of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.”

NOTE: This summary is provided to assist in understanding the RCVS Disciplinary Committee’s decision. It does not form part of the reasons for the decision. The Committee’s full findings and decision is the only authoritative document.

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