LONDON, February 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons yesterday (2 February 2010) directed that the name of a veterinary surgeon who had been practising in Essex be removed from the RCVS Register, having found him guilty of attempting to obtain medicines dishonestly.
James Alexander Lockyear, a graduate from Pretoria University in South Africa, was charged with two offences. The case was heard in his absence, although the Committee did not draw any adverse inference from this. One charge concerned his attempted purchase of steroids from a pharmacy in Colchester by dishonestly representing that the medicine was for legitimate veterinary use. The second charge related to several instances of what the Committee referred to as inappropriate and unprofessional behaviour, including showing an offensive image to another staff member on a mobile phone, placing the testicle of a castrated dog in his mouth and the misuse of an endotracheal tube.
All of the incidents had taken place between April 2008 and September 2009, while Mr Lockyear was practising as a locum veterinary surgeon at St Runwald's Veterinary Surgery, Colchester, Essex.
The Disciplinary Committee heard evidence from a pharmacist, Mr Noble, to whom Mr Lockyear had presented an incomplete veterinary prescription for 12 ampoules of Sustanon, a prescription-only anabolic steroid for humans, and a further pharmacist, Mr Foskett MRPharmS, who outlined his suspicions that the steroids were in fact for Mr Lockyear's personal use (Sustanon is a substance which can potentially be misused in relation to body-building). Mr Lockyear had originally claimed the drugs were for general stock at the practice; he later returned with a second prescription, for double the amount of Sustanon, claiming it was for his own dog; later again, he said the prescription was for a friend's dog.
The Committee also heard evidence from the veterinary owner of the practice, a veterinary nurse and a student veterinary nurse working in the practice team, and from Dr Maddison MRCVS, an expert on small animal clinical pharmacology. Dr Maddison informed the Committee that there was a veterinary alternative to Sustanon, so it was not necessary for that drug to have been sought by Mr Lockyear. She was also of the view that Sustanon would not have been suitable to treat the ailments for which Mr Lockyear claimed it was to be used.
The Committee found Mr Lockyear guilty of the first charge - that is attempting to obtain medicines dishonestly. Chairing the Disciplinary Committee, Mrs Alison Bruce, said: Whilst it was a one-off incident, it is conduct which falls far short of that which is expected of a member of the profession. It involves serious dishonesty; it represents an abuse of a veterinary surgeon's authority to prescribe drugs; it is conduct which tends to undermine public trust in the profession, and the honesty of its members; it is conduct which compromised other professionals, the pharmacists involved, and undermined the trust which ought to exist between pharmacists and veterinary surgeons generally, in the important area of drug prescription. The Committee therefore directed that Mr Lockyear's name be removed from the Register.
Regarding the second charge, the Committee was most concerned about the incident relating to the dog's testicles, which it felt offended against Mr Lockyear's duty to treat with respect all animals which were his patients. Taking the three incidents as a whole, the Committee felt that Mr Lockyear should be seriously criticised for behaviour that was unprofessional... juvenile, inappropriate, disgusting and offensive. However, they felt that the conduct was not malicious, and did not occur in the presence of a member of the public, so concluded that this did not amount to disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
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 education.
2. RCVS disciplinary powers are exercised through the Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary Committees, established in accordance with Schedule 2 to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (the 1966 Act). The RCVS has authority to deal with three types of case:
a) Fraudulent registration b) Criminal convictions c) Allegations of disgraceful professional conduct
3. The Disciplinary Committee is a constituted judicial tribunal under the 1966 Act and follows rules of evidence similar to those used in a court of law.
4. The burden of proving an allegation falls upon the RCVS, and the RCVS must prove to the standard that the Committee is sure.
5. 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.
6. Further information, including the original charges against Mr Lockyear and the Committee's findings and decision, can be found via http://www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary.
For more information please contact:
Lizzie Lockett, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons +44(0)20-7202-0725 /firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
CONTACT: For more information please contact: Lizzie Lockett, RoyalCollege of Veterinary Surgeons +44(0)20-7202-0725, /email@example.com