Disciplinary Committee Suspend Cardigan Vet

By Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons, PRNE
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

LONDON, July 21, 2011 -


The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary
Surgeons (RCVS) this week [19 July 2011] suspended from the RCVS
Register for five months a Cardigan veterinary surgeon for failure
to perform accurate bovine tuberculin testing and for falsely
certifying the test results.

During the two-day hearing, Dewi Wyn Lewis, of Priory Veterinary
Ltd, Cardigan, answered charges about inaccurate skin fold
measurements and false certification relating to two visits he made
as an Official Veterinarian to a farm in April 2009 to undertake
tuberculin testing.

Mr Lewis accepted that he had not carried out the tuberculin
tests in the way required by Animal Health (AH) - an Executive
Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs -
and had taken short cuts to save time. However, he denied the
charges, arguing that, although instructions to Official
Veterinarians clearly required the use of callipers to measure the
skin folds of cattle necks on Day One of testing, not using
callipers and using his finger and thumb did not amount to failing
to measure.  

He also argued (and it was accepted by the Committee) that,
regarding Day Two of testing, there was inconsistency in AH’s
instructions on calliper use, which in written form required using
callipers for measuring every animal but in practice accepted use
of callipers when  a reaction could be detected by manually
palpating the skin. On Day Two, Mr Lewis said, he had done what AH
required: he had used callipers on the cattle he identified for
closer examination.

The Committee, however, found that by failing to use callipers
on the first day, as required by AH, Mr Lewis had failed to measure
the skin folds of almost all of the 104 cattle. The Committee was
also satisfied that, on the second day, 10-20% of the herd were not
even touched by Mr Lewis and the Committee accepted the evidence of
 the three other witnesses present during the testing, which
indicated that Mr Lewis had failed to carry out careful assessment
and manual palpation of every animal.

The Committee then considered whether Mr Lewis had dishonestly
signed the certificate, or had signed a false certificate which he
ought to have known was inaccurate. The Committee noted that there
were no previous Disciplinary findings against Mr Lewis, and was
prepared to believe his assertion that, although he knew he had not
carried out the tests in strict compliance with AH’s instructions,
he genuinely believed his methods to be at least as accurate as
measuring with callipers and did not think he was doing anything
wrong or dishonest.  The Committee could not then be sure that
Mr Lewis had realised what he was doing was dishonest. However, the
Committee noted that ‘false’ also means ‘inaccurate’ and, as Mr
Lewis ought to have known that as his testing methods were not
adequate, he also should have known that a considerable number of
measurements on the certificate were inaccurate and that the
certificate itself was inaccurate.  

After considering the facts of the case, the Committee concluded
that Mr Lewis’s actions amounted to serious professional misconduct
and directed that he should be suspended from the Register for five
months, after which he may return to practice.  In relation to
the sanction, the Committee said:  ”In reaching this decision
it is relevant that the false certification was not dishonest and
that there was professional and personal mitigation put forward on
behalf of Mr Lewis. The Committee has paid regard to the fact that
Mr Lewis is an experienced veterinary surgeon who is highly thought
of in his local area. It does not believe that there is any
likelihood that he will repeat his previous conduct.”

The Committee also said it gave considerable weight to the fact
that Mr Lewis had had to wait an additional three-month period for
the hearing because of an earlier adjournment.



1)    The RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary
surgeons in the UK and deals with issues of professional
misconduct, maintaining the register of veterinary surgeons
eligible to practise in the UK and assuring standards of veterinary

2)    RCVS disciplinary powers are exercised through
the Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary Committees. The RCVS
has authority to deal with three types of case:

a)    Fraudulent registration

b)    Criminal convictions

c)    Allegations of disgraceful professional

3)    A respondent veterinary surgeon may appeal a
Disciplinary Committee decision to the Privy Council within 28 days
of the date of the decision. If no appeal is received, the
Committee’s judgment takes effect after this period.

4)    Detailed documentation about this Inquiry can be
found at href="\\lonpivdocs\redocs\2011\www.rcvs.org.uk\disciplinary">www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary.

Contact details:

Claire Millington
Belgravia House
62-64 Horseferry Road
Tel: +44(0)20-7202-0783
Fax: +44(0)20-7202-0740


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