Vet nurse suspended for stealing drugs and pet food
A veterinary nurse has been suspended for three months after admitting stealing prescription veterinary medication and pet food from the veterinary practice where she worked.
Stephanie Hazelwood, who worked for Vets Now in Ipswich, faced three charges before the RCVS VN Disciplinary Committee
- that she had, on three separate occasions, taken bags of pet food from the practice without paying for them;
- that she had taken a prescription-only veterinary medication, from the practice without paying for it or having a prescription from a veterinary surgeon for the product; and
- that her conduct in relation to the previous two charges was dishonest and in respect of the latter, risked undermining procedures there to protect animal welfare.
Having accepted her admissions, the committee ruled that her actions constituted a serious breach of the trust placed in her by her employer, which had entrusted her with access to veterinary medications and their responsible use.
The committee also considered that her conduct undermined the reputation of the profession and public confidence in those within it, constituting serious professional conduct.
In terms of mitigation, the committee noted that Ms Hazelwood had no previous disciplinary history and a hitherto unblemished career, that she had made open and frank admissions and demonstrated genuine remorse.
Chair Judith Way said: “The committee noted the mitigating factors in this case and that Ms Hazelwood stole these items at a time when she was under particular financial and personal pressure.
“She said it was out of character and her testimonials supported this assertion. The amounts involved were small and had been repaid.
“Furthermore, it was apparent that at the time Ms Hazelwood was struggling financially and her motivation was not so much financial gain but rather the need to feed and protect her animals.
“Her testimonials describe her as a very experienced and competent nurse, with an excellent work ethic and a real passion for the animals in her care.”
She added: “The Committee considered a period of suspension to mark the behaviour was both appropriate and proportionate in all the circumstances.”
Full details of the case and the committee’s decision can be found at www.rcvs.org.uk/disciplinary