Undertakings imposed on Bolton-based veterinary surgeon

16 November 2018

The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has postponed judgement for a period of two years on a Bolton-based vet after he admitted to clinical failings. This postponement was on the basis that the Respondent agree to a form of undertakings, which if breached could lead to the Disciplinary Committee being reconvened at an earlier date.

The Disciplinary Committee hearing for Mr David Henry Eccles MRCVS took place on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 November 2018 after he admitted two charges relating to the treatment of a cat, Leo.

The first charge related to events that took place on 29 September 2017, involving failure to diagnose Leo correctly, and a failure to make a clear, accurate and detailed clinical record in respect of the consultation.

The first charge related to events that took place on 29 September 2017, involving failure to diagnose Leo correctly, and a failure to make a clear, accurate and detailed clinical record in respect of the consultation.

The second charge related to events that took place the following day, 30 September 2017, and involved numerous elements including the fact that Mr Eccles failed to undertake an adequate assessment of Leo's presenting condition; failed to offer a referral as an option to the owners; preformed inadequate surgery; and failed to provide Leo with the care and monitoring he needed post-operatively.

Mr Eccles also failed to inform Leo's owners in advance that the cat would be left alone on the premises post-operatively and discharged Leo home when he was not fit to be discharged and without providing his owners with adequate discharge information and instructions. Mr Eccles also admitted that he anaesthetised Leo when the cat was not fit for anaesthesia and failed to make clear and accurate clinical records.

It was apparent from the evidence that the end result of Mr Eccles’ decisions and conduct meant that Leo was not afforded the standard of care to which his owners were entitled to expect.

The first charge related to events that took place on 29 September 2017, involving failure to diagnose Leo correctly, and a failure to make a clear, accurate and detailed clinical record in respect of the consultation. In this case, Mr Eccles’ failings began from the day of the first examination of Leo, and continued to the following day, the day of the surgery, at which point his failings were considered to be more wide-ranging and serious. The Committee noted that nowhere in his witness statement did Mr Eccles seek to contest the charges.

The Committee found that the Respondent’s conduct fell fall far short of that which is to be expected of a veterinary surgeon.  The Committee thereby reached the conclusion that the conduct of Mr Eccles clearly constituted serious professional misconduct.

Aggravating factors in this matter included the fact that Mr Eccles’ failings caused Leo injury, in this case with fatal consequences. Mitigating factors however, included the fact that Mr Eccles’ failings could be considered to be a single incident and the fact that he has had an otherwise long and unblemished career as a veterinary surgeon. Furthermore, the Committee acknowledged the admissions made by Mr Eccles prior to the hearing. Finally, the Committee accepted that in the lead up to the hearing, Mr Eccles had demonstrated insight into his deficiencies.

The Committee then proceeded to consider the question of sanction. It was decided that it would be proportionate to postpone judgement on condition that Mr Eccles agree to abide by a set of undertakings.

The Committee then proceeded to consider the question of sanction. It was decided that it would be proportionate to postpone judgement on condition that Mr Eccles agree to abide by a set of undertakings. These undertakings include: the preparation of a personal development plan; enrolment in the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme; the appointment of a veterinary mentor; completion of additional training and CPD; and to incur the costs of complying with the undertakings, including the appointment of and work undertaken by the appointed mentor. Mr Eccles was advised of the consequences of breaching the undertakings, including the potential of the hearing being resumed at an earlier date.

Ian Green, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee considers that a No Further Action order outcome is wholly inadequate to meet the seriousness of the failings which are confirmed by the Respondent’s admissions of the Charges to which he entered pleas.

"In those circumstances the Committee proceeded next to consider the adequacy or otherwise of the sanction, namely the sanction of Postponement accompanied by suitable Undertakings. This Committee takes a very serious view of the Respondent’s failings and considered the question of the adequacy of this sanction carefully and for a long period.

"The Committee reminded itself that the purpose of the sanctions available to it is not to punish the Respondent but to seek to ensure the protection of the welfare of animals, to maintain public confidence in the profession and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct and competence.”

This news story is a summary of the hearing produced on behalf of the RCVS Disciplinary Committee. It does not form part of the full facts and findings which are the only authoritative documentation. The full facts and findings are available to download from our Disciplinary Committee hearings page.

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