The RCVS Disciplinary Committee has recently restored to the Register a veterinary surgeon, who was previously removed in December 2018 following an investigation into her actions whilst working as an Official Veterinarian (OV) in Staffordshire.
Laura Padron Vega was removed from the Register on 7 December 2018 for dishonestly backdating two statutory Certificates of Competence submitted to the Food Standards Agency under the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing Regulations 2015.
She was also found to have failed in her duties as an OV by being unprepared for, and unaware of, the new regulations. She did not take adequate steps to ensure that the two individuals for whom she had given veterinary certification were licensed to perform slaughter in accordance with these regulations.
Ms Padron Vega’s application for restoration to the Register was heard by the Committee on 21 July 2021, following her original application for restoration that was held on 8 and 9 December 2020.
At that hearing, the Disciplinary Committee decided that Ms Padron Vega’s application should be adjourned for six months to allow her to prove to the Committee that it was appropriate to restore her name to the Register.
The basis for this decision was that the Committee had concerns about her keeping up-to-date with the knowledge and skills needed to return to practice, in particular in the area that she had suggested she wished to work in.
At the most recent hearing, Ms Padron Vega sought to address the concerns that the Committee had raised about her professional development.
In addition to the documentation she provided in her original restoration hearing, which included positive testimonials from colleagues, she provided evidence of her continuing professional development (CPD) since that last hearing.
This included a letter from her previous employer, who confirmed she had more recently worked for them as a Certification Support Officer from February to March 2021, where they received positive feedback on her conduct.
The documentation also included a letter from another practice confirming that Ms Padron Vega had been offered a position of employment with them, and a separate letter from practice veterinary surgeon, Dr Khan MRCVS, confirming that he would be her mentor.
Dr Khan also confirmed that she had been coming to the practice for work experience and he considered her to have good working knowledge of current medicines used within the practice. He further outlined in his letter what CPD support the practice would be providing for Ms Padron Vega as part of her employment with them.
An additional piece of evidence was a testimonial from Dr Max Rutana MRCVS, who worked with Ms Padron Vega from September to November 2018. He confirmed that Ms Padron Vega had worked unsupervised for a period of three weeks, and that he found her clinical notes during this period to be satisfactory and they received no complaints about her conduct from clients.
Ms Padron Vega also submitted CPD documentation which confirmed she has taken a Certification Support Officers’ course and examination in mid-December 2020.
In response to questions from the Committee about her small animal practice experience and how long she had been shadowing Dr Khan for, Ms Padron Vega explained that she had completed 80 hours of shadowing with Dr Khan and that in her future employment under his mentorship, he would be available to support her. She also explained that her job offer was evidence that she would continue to be trained in the relevant area of veterinary work.
“In her Reflective Statement, she acknowledges that veterinarians have a professional responsibility to ensure the integrity of veterinary certification, that she is now aware that when signing documents as a veterinary surgeon they need to be approached with care and accuracy.”
Cerys Jones, Chair, Disciplinary Committee
Cerys Jones, chairing the Disciplinary Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “During the hearing, we heard evidence from Dr Khan who provided reassurance of Ms Padron Vega’s continued professional development with his practice and the ongoing supervision that she would be under. He explained that the supervision would last at least three months.
“The Committee’s view is that Ms Padron Vega accepts the findings of dishonesty that were made against her at the original Inquiry hearing.
“In her Reflective Statement, she acknowledges that veterinarians have a professional responsibility to ensure the integrity of veterinary certification, that she is now aware that when signing documents as a veterinary surgeon they need to be approached with care and accuracy.
“Further she has undertaken a CPD course on this very ethical issue and has passed the examination set at the end of that course.
“The Committee is confident that Ms Padron Vega is unlikely to repeat the conduct which resulted in her being removed from the Register. It is the Committee’s decision that she should be restored to the Register.”
Please note: this news story is a summary of the hearing in order to aid with understanding the case and the Committee’s decision but does not form part of the decision itself. The Committee’s full published findings are the only authoritative documentation.