RCVS Disciplinary CommitteeLocum David John Porter has been struck off by the RCVS Disciplinary Committee for rude and aggressive behaviour, deficient clinical standards and obstructing the Committee's investigation into the complaints against him.

Three charges were found against Mr Porter.

The first charge (charge A) concerned failure to communicate courteously and respectfully with colleagues. This charge related to four incidents as follows:

  • A1: On 3 November 2011, whilst on duty at the Seadown Veterinary Hospital in Southampton, he was rude and/or threatening and/or aggressive to two veterinary surgeon colleagues.
  • A2: On 11 June 2012, whilst on duty at Clent Hills Veterinary Group, Worcestershire, he said to an assistant practice manager and receptionist that British veterinary surgeons and practice managers were untrustworthy.
  • A3: On 12 June 2012, when on the telephone with the practice manager of Clent Hills, he was rude and/or used inappropriate language; and stated that a lot of British vets were “bloody awful”, liars and cheats.
  • A4: In January 2013, during the course of an Employment Tribunal hearing in relation to his time as a locum at Clent Hills Veterinary Group in June 2012, he raised his voice aggressively and/or shouted at the Clent Hills practice manager.

In finding him guilty of this charge the Committee referred to his “wholly unacceptable exchanges with other veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses and ancillary practice staff members with whom he was working on the dates in question.”

The second charge for which he was found guilty (charge C) concerned what the Committee called “his seriously deficient clinical standards when treating animals under his care”, in particular that:

  • C1: Between 31 October 2011 and 4 November 2011 at Seadown Veterinary Hospital he used inadequate levels of hygiene when conducting surgery by failing to scrub up and/or wash his hands before surgery, including abdominal surgery.
  • C2: On 26 April 2013 at the Stanhope Park Veterinary Practice he used surgical spirit to clean the ear canal of a dog.
  • C3: On 27 April 2013 at the same practice, he unreasonably refused to euthanase a dog.
  • C4: On 28 April 2013, at the same practice, he used a ratchet gag on a rabbit without having first administered sedation or anaesthesia.

Within charge C he was cleared of two further parts of the charge – first, that he failed to discuss euthanasia with a client in relation to a kitten and failed to provide the client with sufficient advice and instructions regarding after-care; and, second, that he prescribed steroids to treat a kitten for muscle strain at a time when it was recovering from surgery.

The third charge for which he was found guilty (charge D) relates to Mr Porter’s failure, between 7 February 2013 and 31 October 2014, to respond adequately to communications from the RCVS. In particular that:

  • D(i): Between 7 February and 21 December 2013 he failed to respond constructively or at all to correspondence from the College.
  • D(ii): From July 2014 he failed to respond to specific requests for details regarding his qualifications and experience.

As to the conduct found proved in relation to charge D, the Committee set out its findings of fact and declared: “What Mr Porter chose to do was to attempt to obstruct the College in its attempts to investigate the complaints laid against him and, thereafter, its attempts to bring him before the Committee to answer the charges preferred against him. In short, he has directly questioned, and then disregarded and thwarted, the legitimate role of his professional regulatory body.” 

The Committee’s reasons for taking a serious view of such conduct were expressed in the following words: “Both the public and other members of the profession must be entitled to rely on the expectation that all veterinary surgeons, as responsible professional persons, will co-operate fully and promptly to all proper enquiries made of them by the College. This is the wider public interest factor which means that deliberate attempts to thwart the College’s enquiries into complaints must, in our judgment, come at the top end of the spectrum of gravity of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect.” 

During the course of the hearing, which began in June 2015 and was adjourned three times, Mr Porter was cleared of charge B against him which concerned alleged refusal to undertake out-of-hours work for the Clent Hills Veterinary Group having previously indicated he would undertake such work.

In making the decision on the sanction in this case, Judith Webb, chairing the Disciplinary Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “In reaching our conclusion as to the sanction which is merited in this case we have taken into account the totality of Mr Porter’s conduct and failings. We consider that the conduct pertaining to Charges D(i) and (ii), even when viewed separately, demand the imposition of a direction for the removal of Mr Porter’s name from the Register.

“When that conduct is considered in conjunction with the other misconduct found proved in relation to Charges C1 to C4, which identify his clinical failings, and Charges A1 to A4, which demonstrate unprofessional behaviour in the workplace, we unhesitatingly conclude that there is no other sanction that could be considered sufficient, other than that of erasure.”

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