Vet Who Delegated Surgery to Unqualified Staff is Restored to Register

The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) yesterday [12 September 2012] accepted an application for restoration to the RCVS Register by Gordon Lonsdale, who had been struck off in March 2004 for illegally delegating acts of veterinary surgery to insufficiently qualified members of his practice staff.

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At the initial Inquiry, Mr Lonsdale, who formerly worked as a sole practitioner in Shropshire, had admitted three separate charges of serious professional misconduct. These included allegations that he had instructed nurses and support staff to undertake dental extractions, dog and cat castrations, the removal of tumours or masses, the induction and maintenance of anaesthesia, lancing abscesses and suturing wounds.

At yesterday’s hearing, the onus was on Mr Lonsdale to satisfy the Committee that he was fit to be restored to the Register, not least in view of his former health problems and the eight-year period for which he had been off the Register.

He provided the Committee with evidence of undertaking continuing professional development, including 130 hours of online courses and seven weeks of seeing practice, letters of endorsement from former clients and testimonials from friends and former colleagues.

The Committee accepted Mr Lonsdale’s evidence that he had successfully addressed his alcoholism, which it recognised as being a contributory factor to his poor decision making in an isolated working environment. He assured the Committee of his intention that, should his application be successful, he intended to work only in a multi-handed, rather than single-handed, practice in future.

The Committee found him to be an honest and frank witness who had made a credible attempt to refresh his small animal practice knowledge; it was satisfied that he accepted the findings of the original hearing and that he had put the welfare of animals at risk, and it noted his expression of remorse.

In considering Mr Lonsdale’s application, the Committee made a number of recommendations, including that he should register for the RCVS Professional Development Phase, undertake certain parts of the RCVS Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice, restrict himself to his recognised areas of competence, investigate communication courses run by the Veterinary Defence Society and continue with the mentoring programme provided by the Veterinary Surgeons Health Support Programme. Mr Lonsdale stated that he was willing to follow all of these recommendations.

Professor Peter Lees, who chaired and spoke on behalf of the Disciplinary Committee, concluded: “In these circumstances, we do not consider that any further period of erasure would be of benefit either to the public or the veterinary profession. Therefore, we direct the Registrar to restore Mr Lonsdale’s name to the Register.”

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