Vet nurse struck off after posing as surgeon online

Vet nurse struck off after posing as surgeon online

An unnamed veterinary nurse has been struck off for claiming to be a veterinary surgeon and for making offensive and discriminatory remarks on the social media platform X (Twitter).

The individual, referred to as Mrs D throughout the hearing and who was granted anonymity by the Committee on grounds relating to her health, faced three charges against her.

The first charge was that she posted the tweets from her Twitter/X account.

The second charge was that in a number of tweets (Schedule 1 below), she falsely stated or implied that she was a veterinary surgeon, and that, in some tweets, while falsely holding herself out to be a veterinary surgeon, she used language that was offensive and/or unprofessional.

The third charge was that in a number of tweets (Schedule 2 below) she made statements that were offensive, discriminatory and brought the veterinary professions into disrepute.

At the outset of the RCVS VN Disciplinary Committee hearing Mrs D admitted all the facts of the charges against her, and also admitted that her conduct amounted to disgraceful conduct in a professional capacity.

The Committee considered that there were a number of aggravating factors in Mrs D’s behaviour, including a lack of probity and integrity, as well as dishonesty, in holding herself out as a veterinary surgeon.

Her conduct was also premeditated and took place over a lengthy period of time, involved abuse of her position, and demonstrated discriminatory behaviour, as a large number of her tweets were highly offensive towards various minority groups.

In mitigation, the Committee heard from the respondent that she had a number of difficulties in her personal life which led to inappropriate use of social media, though she did not suggest these factors excused her behaviour.

The Committee also considered that Mrs D had a long and previously unblemished career of 15 or so years, had made early admissions (albeit she had initially denied being responsible for the tweets) and shown considerable remorse.

However, in terms of the sanction, the Committee considered that removal from the Register was the most proportionate sanction it could impose.

Paul Morris, who chaired the Committee, said: “For a registered veterinary nurse to pretend to be a veterinary surgeon on a public platform is itself an extremely serious matter.

“When that presentation is associated with the highly offensive language of the tweets in this case, extending over a period of years, the conduct is in the view of the Committee fundamentally incompatible with continued registration.

“The Committee has concluded that removal from the register is the only sanction which is sufficient to satisfy the public interest in maintaining proper standards of behaviour for registered veterinary practitioners and public confidence in the profession and its regulation.”