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Former veterinary surgeon’s ninth attempt at restoration rejected by Disciplinary Committee

By 08/07/2021No Comments

A former veterinary surgeon who was struck off 27 years ago, has had his ninth application to be restored to the Register rejected on the basis that he would pose a risk to animal welfare were he to practise as a veterinary surgeon.

The latest Disciplinary Committee restoration hearing for Warwick John Seymour-Hamilton took place on Friday 23 June and was his ninth such application. Previous applications had been made in 1995, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, all of which had been rejected by the Disciplinary Committee.

Mr Seymour-Hamilton was originally removed from the Register in 1994 following an inspection of his veterinary practice premises in Orpington, Kent, that found that the condition of the practice, including the equipment and facilities, were of such a risk to animal health and welfare that it brought the profession into disrepute.

In considering his current application, the Committee had to take several factors into account, including: whether Mr Seymour-Hamilton had accepted the findings of his original hearing; whether he demonstrated insight into his past conduct; protection of the public and the public interest; the future welfare of animals committed to his care should he be restored; length of time off the Register; his conduct since removal; and evidence that he’d kept up-to-date in terms of the knowledge and skills required of a practising veterinary surgeon.

Regarding acceptance of the original findings, while Mr Seymour-Hamilton accepted the facts of the original charges, he did not accept the conclusions  of the two veterinary surgeons who inspected his practice and Mr Seymour-Hamilton claimed that he had been falsely accused by them.

As a result, the Committee concluded that Mr Seymour-Hamilton did not accept the seriousness of the original findings against him, nor had he demonstrated any insight into either the original charges, nor what was required of him to enable a successful application for restoration.

Judith Webb, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: “The Committee is driven to the conclusion that the applicant has displayed total disregard for rules and regulations. In his evidence he stated that he is professionally competent to spay a cat and he had done so in Calais. This was in recent years and whilst struck off by the RCVS, and after more than 25 years out of the profession. He was unable to see that he had done anything wrong in this.”

“In the view of the Committee, the applicant is totally unaware of current veterinary principles such as it being an evidence-based profession, use of clinical audit and reflective learning. He does not appear to have accepted the purpose of the regulator in protecting public interest, including maintaining public confidence in the profession, nor its role in upholding professional standards and promoting animal welfare.”

As to protection of the public and the future welfare of animals committed to his care, the Committee found that Mr Seymour-Hamilton continued to display a lack of understanding of the role and purpose of regulation. He had shown no insight into previous decisions or of what was required of him to enable a successful restoration, despite being given advice in that regard. He presented no compelling evidence to indicate that he would be safe to practise veterinary surgery were he to be restored to the Register.  

Regarding Mr Seymour-Hamilton’s conduct since removal from the Register, the Committee found he did not demonstrate sufficient relevant conduct in relation to his fitness to practise. The Committee noted that, on previous occasions, he had indicated he had illegally practised veterinary surgery and admitted using his own animals to experimentally administer new and untested remedies.

The Committee found that, in relation to the 27 years since removal from the Register, Mr Seymour-Hamilton had not undertaken the prolonged, intensive and formal retraining needed to ensure he was now fit to practise. It also found that, since the last restoration hearing in 2020, Mr Seymour-Hamilton had undertaken very little continuing professional development, maintaining that he was too busy with his work relating to herbal remedies to attend formal veterinary training.

Judith Webb added: “He claimed that he does not find it difficult to keep up-to-date, because he is able to perform online searches if he is in need of information. He thinks that he is competent to operate even after 27 years out of the profession, and maintains that he could operate now. In the view of the Committee, the applicant is totally unaware of current veterinary principles such as it being an evidence-based profession, use of clinical audit and reflective learning. He does not appear to have accepted the purpose of the regulator in protecting public interest, including maintaining public confidence in the profession, nor its role in upholding professional standards and promoting animal welfare. 

The Committee considers that where some 27 years have passed since the applicant has practised, there will inevitably be a serious risk to the welfare of animals if he is restored to the Register. In addition, the Committee is firmly of the opinion that it would not be in the public interest for the application for restoration to the RCVS Register to be granted in this case.”

Please note: this news story is intended to be a summary of the hearing to assist in the understanding the Committee’s decision. The full documentation from the restoration hearing can be found on our dedicated Disciplinary hearings page

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