The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has struck a vet from the register after he was found guilty of serious professional misconduct following multiple complaints.
During an 11-day hearing, the college’s disciplinary committee (DC) heard eight unrelated complaints against Marcus Hutber, a vet based in Somerset, while he was the owner of veterinary company Epivet in 2009. The complaints involved a series of allegations including a lack of adequate professional care, failure to have regard to animal welfare and failure to treat clients with courtesy and respect.
In the first case, says the DC, Dr Hutber was found to:
- have performed surgery on a dog inadequately;
- failed to provide adequate postoperative pain relief;
- failed to obtain informed consent for the surgery from the dog’s owner; and,
- failed to keep adequate clinical records of the dog’s treatment.
In another, it was found he had failed to ensure a cat’s condition was monitored adequately and that he had not kept “adequate” clinical records.
Hutber was also found to have treated a client without due courtesy or respect when he told her to come to the practice at once to get tablets and give them to her dog, otherwise the dog would die (of a disease he had diagnosed without investigating). He later repeated this instruction, despite the dog being treated at a different practice.
The DC said it found Hutber’s conduct in each complaint, both standing alone and taken collectively, amounted to serious professional misconduct. Despite the committee accepting Hutber was of previous good character, his behaviour during the hearing, where he frequently lapsed into periods of silence that could last minutes and often stared fixedly (and, in the committee’s view, intimidatingly) at witnesses and college counsel, was “unhelpful and uncooperative“. There were also inconsistencies between his written rebuttal, his witness statement and his oral evidence, about which the committee found him “evasive and illogical”. He had shown “no remorse or regret” for his actions, and continued to assert he had done nothing wrong.
Chairing the committee was Peter Lees, who said: “The committee has found fundamental failings in the respondent’s clinical competence, and that there were serious defects in his interpersonal skills in relation to clients. He has throughout displayed a tendency to blame others for things that have gone wrong.
“[The committee] is not satisfied there is a realistic prospect of the respondent having the ability or inclination to remedy his failings [and] remains unconvinced there is a real possibility of a change in his attitude.
“The committee is fully conscious that the purpose of sanction is not to punish, but to protect animals and the wider public interest and to uphold the reputation of the veterinary profession. Having regard to the serious aggravating factors [in this case], the committee considers the respondent’s conduct, taken as a whole, is so serious that removal of his professional status is the only appropriate sanction.”
Accordingly, the committee directed the registrar to remove Dr Hutber’s name from the Register.