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Dr Henry faced one charge, that in January 2020 she wrote and/or signed an undated letter confirming that a ewe had died in transit to the surgery due to dystocia and peri-parturient stress, when in fact she had euthanised the animal at the veterinary practice the day before. The letter, which was addressed 'To whom it may concern’, was on practice letterheaded paper and signed "Louise Henry MRCVS".
The second part of the charge outlined that her conduct concerning the letter was dishonest.
The Committee heard that the ewe was lambing and brought to the practice by a client. Dr Henry was on-call at the time and advised a Caesarean section. The client agreed and Dr Henry delivered two live lambs and one dead lamb.
Dr Henry was concerned about the welfare of the ewe post-surgery because of the risk of peritonitis and advised that the ewe should be euthanised.
The client agreed to the ewe being euthanised and then asked Dr Henry to write a letter in which it was stated that the ewe had died in transit on route to the practice. Dr Henry agreed to write the letter in which she falsely certified that the ewe had died in transit.
The letter came to light when the practice director found it in an insurance file. The practice arranged an investigatory meeting with Dr Henry where she admitted that writing the letter was an error of judgement. When asked about her conduct, Dr Henry explained that the client had subsequently been dissatisfied with the letter she had written and asked her to change it. She refused to amend the letter and told him that it was wrong of her to have written it in the first place and that she regretted having done so.
Dr Henry told the Committee that she valued integrity very highly and that she was deeply ashamed that she had been prepared to write the dishonest letter.
The Committee heard several testimonials from people who had worked with or studied alongside Dr Henry, who all attested to her skill as a veterinary surgeon and that they had no concerns about her integrity and honesty. She self-reported her actions from January to the RCVS and from the outset admitted the facts of the charge. During the hearing, Dr Henry submitted that her action of dishonest false certification amounted to disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.
Dr Martin Whiting, chairing the Committee, and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee considered that, in this case, the aggravating features were limited and the mitigating factors extensive. There was no premeditated dishonesty or financial gain involved, there was no actual harm or risk of harm to an animal or human and this was a single incident in an otherwise unblemished 13-year career. The Committee found that the shame and remorse expressed by Dr Henry were entirely genuine. Her conduct on this occasion was entirely untypical of her practise.
“After careful consideration, the Committee concluded that the substantial mitigating features permitted it to take the somewhat unusual course of issuing a reprimand in a case involving dishonesty. In taking this course, the Committee attached significant weight not only to the isolated nature of the event but also to the genuine insight shown by Dr Henry and the lasting impact this event has had upon her. In the Committee’s assessment, a reasonable and fully informed member of the public would, in this particular case, regard a reprimand as a sanction which protected the public interest in the profession and upheld its standards.”
The full documentation for the hearing can be found at www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary
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