DC removes Luton-based vet from Register for repeated clinical failures

30 January 2020

The Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has directed the Registrar to remove a Luton-based veterinary surgeon from the Register for repeated clinical failures.

The hearing of the case against Mr Rahul Chandulal Shah MRCVS took place between Monday 13 and Tuesday 21 January 2020, when the Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Dr Martin Whiting, considered two charges against him.

The first charge alleged that, on 7 June 2018 and in relation to a castration performed by him on a kitten that day, Mr Shah allowed the kitten to be anaesthetised without having first undertaken a clinical examination of the kitten.

It also alleged that, having failed to locate a second testicle during the surgery, Mr Shah failed to contact the owner to inform her of this failure and to discuss the treatment options arising as a result, before ending his attempts at the castration.

Furthermore, the charge alleges that Mr Shah failed to devise an adequate plan for the completion of the castration, failed to take adequate steps to ensure that the owner was fully informed of the details of the surgery, and failed to make adequate clinical notes in relation to the kitten.

The second charge alleged that, in relation to the conduct in charge one, Mr Shah failed to have adequate regard to previous advice and warnings from the RCVS about his conduct in relation to neutering surgery and related clinical note-keeping and communication with clients.

In particular, this related to a reprimand issued on 23 September 2016 by the Disciplinary Committee following its finding of disgraceful conduct with regards to his discharge of a dog following castration in 2014, and advise issued to Mr Shah by letter of 21 March 2018 by the College’s Preliminary Investigation Committee with regards to circumstances surrounding canine spay surgery performed by him in 2016.

At the outset of the hearing Mr Shah denied all of the charges.  

In relation to the facts of the case, the Committee considered submissions on behalf of both the College and the Respondent. With regards to charge one, the Committee found the following sub-charges proved: that Mr Shah allowed the kitten to be anaesthetised without having first undertaken a clinical examination of the kitten and/or ensuring that they had undergone a clinical examination by another veterinary surgeon; that Mr Shah failed to devise an adequate plan for the completion of the castration, that he failed to take adequate steps to ensure that the owner was fully informed post-operatively of the details of the said surgery; and that he failed to make adequate clinical notes in relation to the findings of his examination under anaesthesia, his surgical approach, post-operative communication with the owners and his plan for completion of the castration. The Committee also found all of charge two proved.

"It is clear to the Committee that in this case, the respondent has failed to demonstrate any insight into the seriousness of his misconduct.  In this case, the Committee considers that there is evidence of a harmful deep-seated personal attitude problem so far as the respondent is concerned," Dr Martin Whiting, Disciplinary Committee Chair 

The Committee then went on to consider whether or not, in relation to the proved charges, Mr Shah’s conduct amounted to serious professional misconduct.  In coming to its decision, the Committee took into account oral submissions from the College and from the Respondent.

In considering the aggravating factors, the Committee took into account the risk of injury to an animal, the contravention of previous advice given by the College, lack of insight, and the previous adverse findings of the Disciplinary Committee and the Preliminary Investigation Committee.

With regards to mitigating factors, the Committee accepted that the conduct was not premeditated, that there was no financial gain and that, notwithstanding the contents of charge two, the first charge was a single and isolated incident.

Considering both the aggravating and mitigating factors, the Committee was satisfied that Mr Shah’s conduct fell far below the standard expected of a registered veterinary surgeon and consequently that it amounted to serious professional misconduct.

The Committee then considered what sanction to impose on Mr Shah. The Committee first considered lesser sanctions, including postponement with undertakings and a reprimand and warning.  Neither would be sufficient to protect animals and the wider public interest and uphold proper standards because Mr Shah had already been given a reprimand and warning in 2016, which appeared, to the Committee, to have had no effect.

“The Committee cannot be confident that there is no significant risk of repeat behaviour in the event that suspension was found to be the appropriate sanction and that the respondent is fit to practise after any period of suspension. This is particularly due to the fact that Mr Shah has failed to have adequate regard to previous advice and warnings from the RCVS, coupled with multiple previous adverse findings of the Disciplinary Committee and the Preliminary Investigation Committee," Dr Martin Whiting

Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Dr Whiting said: “It is clear to the Committee that in this case, the respondent has failed to demonstrate any insight into the seriousness of his misconduct.  In this case, the Committee considers that there is evidence of a harmful deep-seated personal attitude problem so far as the respondent is concerned. 

"His pervasive denial of wrongdoing and lack of insight, in spite of the findings of this Committee, is of grave concern. The respondent’s persistent abdication of personal responsibility and accountability for anything that went wrong, coupled with his sustained blaming of the nursing staff with whom he worked, displays an attitude which is fundamentally incompatible with being a member of the veterinary profession.

“The Committee cannot be confident that there is no significant risk of repeat behaviour in the event that suspension was found to be the appropriate sanction and that the respondent is fit to practise after any period of suspension. This is particularly due to the fact that Mr Shah has failed to have adequate regard to previous advice and warnings from the RCVS, coupled with multiple previous adverse findings of the Disciplinary Committee and the Preliminary Investigation Committee. The Committee has reached this conclusion having regard to the seriousness of its findings in this hearing, and the previous advice and warning given to the respondent, none of which appears to have been recognised or heeded.”

The Committee therefore concluded that the only sanction which reflects the seriousness of this case, in the light of the previous findings and advice given to the Mr Shah by the College, is to remove him from the Register.

The Committee’s full facts and findings can be found on our Disciplinary hearing webpage

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