The RCVS Disciplinary Committee has suspended Oxfordshire-based practitioner Dr Susan Catherine Mulvey MRCVS for six months, for failing to communicate with clients, professional colleagues and the College.

There were two charges against Dr Mulvey. The first was that, between May and October 2018, she failed to provide the clinical history for an English Cocker Spaniel named Henry to the Tremain Veterinary Group, despite numerous requests. Also, that between August 2018 and October 2018, she failed to respond adequately or at all to Henry’s owner's requests for information, particularly his clinical records and details of insurance claims made for Henry by her practice.

The second charge was that in January/February 2019, she failed to respond to reasonable requests from the RCVS, particularly in relation to her treatment of Henry, her continuing professional development (CPD) and the status of her Professional Indemnity Insurance.

At the beginning of the hearing, Dr Mulvey admitted the facts and conduct alleged in the charges and also admitted that when her conduct was considered cumulatively, she was guilty of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.

The Committee, having considered the evidence provided by the College and Dr Mulvey’s admissions found all the facts and conduct to be proved.

The Committee also concluded that Dr Mulvey's failure to respond to Henry's owners and to the College amounted to disgraceful conduct both when considered individually and cumulatively.

In respect of the first charge, the Committee decided that Dr Mulvey had breached the Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons by failing to provide clinical records or details of insurance claims.

This was an administrative part of the function of a veterinary surgeon’s role and that failure to provide clients with such information was unacceptable and fell far short of acceptable professional standards. The Committee noted that Dr Mulvey’s failure to provide details of insurance claims had occurred because she had not made those claims, despite offering to do so. 

With regard to the second charge, the Committee concluded that Dr Mulvey’s failure to respond to five requests from the College for information about Henry was unacceptable.

The Committee also considered that the omissions took place in the context of Dr Mulvey’s previous Disciplinary Committee hearing in April 2018 during which she agreed to a number of undertakings including supervision on her professional practice by an appointed supervisor. It therefore decided that her failure to provide evidence of her CPD and Professional Indemnity Insurance to the College each individually amounted disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.

The Committee then went on to consider the sanction for Dr Mulvey in relation to the both charges that it had found proved and also in respect of the charges it had found proved at its earlier hearing on 26 April 2018 for which sanction had been postponed for a period of 1 year to enable Dr Mulvey to comply with undertakings she gave to the Committee to ensure that her practice met RCVS Core Standards by May 2019.

The Committee heard from Mr Stuart King MRCVS who had been appointed to act as a Workplace Supervisor for Dr Mulvey during the period of her Undertakings. Mr King provided the Committee with a report upon the extent to which Dr Mulvey had complied with the terms of her undertakings including the extent which she had implemented Dr King’s numerous recommendations.

The Committee also heard from Dr Byrne MRCVS an inspector for the RCVS’s voluntary Practice Standards Scheme that Dr Mulvey’s practice, when inspected by him in early April 2019, had not met RCVS PSS Core standards in a number of areas.  

The Committee heard from Dr Mulvey and her Counsel that she accepted that she had not met RCVS Core standards as she had undertaken to do.

In reaching its decision as to sanction for all the matters, the Committee took into account that Dr Mulvey’s misconduct overall was serious because it was repeated.

The Committee also considered aggravating and mitigating factors.

Aggravating factors included the fact that the misconduct was sustained or repeated over a period of time (in relation to charge 1 for a period of approximately 4 months and in relation to charge 2 for approximately 6 weeks).

Other aggravating factors include the fact that Dr Mulvey’s conduct contravened advice issued by the Professional Conduct Department in letters sent to her, and that she had wilfully disregarded the role of the RCVS and the systems that regulate the veterinary profession.    

Mitigating factors included that: there was no harm to any animal; there was no financial gain for Dr Mulvey or any other party; there was no ulterior motive behind Dr Mulvey’s conduct; and that Dr Mulvey had in fact both completed her minimum CPD requirement and secured Professional Indemnity Insurance, demonstrating that she had not attempted to hide such information from the College.

It also took into account that Dr Mulvey, prior to the first Disciplinary Committee’s hearing in 2018, worked without any previous disciplinary findings against her from 1976 to 2018. The Committee also noted that she had made efforts to comply with some of the undertakings. 

Mr Ian Green, Chair of the DC and speaking on behalf of the Disciplinary Committee, said: "The Committee considered that a warning or reprimand was not an appropriate sanction that would meet the public interest. Instead, the Committee decided that a suspension order for a period of six months would allow Dr Mulvey sufficient time to focus on ensuring her practice met the Core Standards set out in the Practice Standards Scheme, without the daily demands of practising as a veterinary surgeon, and was a proportionate and sufficient sanction to meet the public interest.

"The Committee was satisfied that a period of six months met the public interest as it was sanctioning Dr Mulvey for two sets of similar misconduct which we had determined overall as serious. The Committee also believed that during these six months Dr Mulvey could reflect and reorganise her practice, and there would be little risk to animals and the public in her returning to practice."

Dr Mulvey has 28 days from being informed of the Committee’s decision to lodge an appeal with the Privy Council.

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