Skip to content

RCVS Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee suspends VN for six months for dishonesty

19 April 2023

A Devon-based veterinary nurse has been suspended from the Register for six months after the RCVS Veterinary Nurse Disciplinary Committee (VN DC) found that she had left a dog in her care unattended for over two hours, which she covered up with dishonest and misleading clinical records and communication with colleagues.

The hearing for Miss Libby Morris took place from Monday 27 to Friday 31 March and involved three charges against her which all related to her care for a post-operative German Shepherd dog at a Devon veterinary practice on 25 December 2020.

The first charge was that she left the dog unattended between 12.15pm and 2.30pm, made clinical records entries before leaving the practice indicating she’d made these entries at 2pm when she had not, and at 1.41pm sent a message to a veterinary surgeon colleague in which she purported to be providing contemporaneous  updates about the dog’s condition and circumstances when she was not, in fact, with the animal. The second charge alleged that her conduct from the first charge was potentially detrimental to the dog’s welfare, while the third charge alleged that the same conduct was dishonest and/or misleading.

“The Committee therefore concluded that taking into account all of the above matters that a suspension of six months was the proportionate sanction required to meet the public interest in this case."

At the outset of the hearing Miss Morris admitted the majority of the charges, although she denied that she had made the clinical record dishonestly on the basis that she had innocently omitted to correct a time entry she had earlier made in the records as a “prompt”. After considering evidence from the College’s and Miss Morris’s witnesses, the Committee found that she had been  dishonest as she knowingly pre-entered the incorrect time in order to cover up for a period of absence from the practice.

With all the charges having been admitted or found proven, the Committee then went on to consider whether the charges amounted to serious professional misconduct. In making this decision, the Committee considered the aggravating and mitigating factors in Miss Morris’s conduct. In terms of aggravating factors, the Committee found that there was: a real risk of injury to the animal having left it unattended for more than two hours while it was recovering from a serious emergency procedure; dishonesty; recklessness regarding the dog’s welfare; pre-meditated misconduct as she had knowingly made the false clinical record in advance; breach of client trust; and, breach of the position of trust and responsibility placed in her as she was on-call that day and had the sole responsibility for the dog.

In terms of mitigation, the Committee considered that this was a single isolated incident, albeit involving a series of misconduct, in respect of one animal, and that, although there was a risk of harm in leaving a vulnerable animal unattended, her actions did not directly lead to any harm coming to the animal, which did, however, subsequently die from post-operative complications.

Overall, it found that Miss Morris’s conduct would undermine the public trust and confidence placed in the veterinary nursing profession as a whole as well as bring the profession into disrepute and so found that her actions amounted to serious professional misconduct.

In deciding the most appropriate sanction for Miss Morris, the Committee took into account the previously mentioned aggravating and mitigating factors, but also considered a number of further pertinent mitigating factors. These were: Miss Morris’s youth and inexperience at the time of the misconduct; her previously unblemished career; her open and frank admissions to the majority of the charges; her efforts to avoid repeating such behaviours; efforts to remediate past misconduct; the significant lapse of time between the incident and the disciplinary hearing; demonstration of insight into her misconduct; and positive personal character references and testimonials.

Mrs Judith Way, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “In deciding the proportionate sanction the Committee considered the nature and extent of the dishonesty it had found proved. When considering where the dishonesty fell on a scale of dishonesty, it noted that the respondent had acted dishonestly within her practice as a veterinary nurse, on three clinical records, but that the dishonesty related to a single incident and one patient with the aim of extending her time away from the practice on Christmas Day. It therefore concluded that this could be described as middle ranging dishonesty (not the most or least serious type of dishonesty).

"It noted that the Disciplinary Committee Procedure Guidance 2020 referred to “the gravity of the matter may flow from the possible consequences of the dishonesty as well as the dishonesty itself”. The Committee reiterated that there was no evidence that the death of the dog could be causatively linked to the respondent’s actions."

Mrs Way added: “The Committee therefore concluded that taking into account all of the above matters that a suspension of six months was the proportionate sanction required to meet the public interest in this case. It decided on a period of six months in order to send a signal to the veterinary nursing profession and the public about such conduct. In the Committee’s judgment taking into account all of the above factors a sanction of removal would be excessive and would not take sufficient account of the substantial mitigating factors.”

Please note: this news story is a summary of the hearing to assist in understanding the case and the Committee's decision. The full, authoritative documentation can be found on our Disciplinary Hearings webpage


The full findings of the Disciplinary Committee can be found at

Read more news