Fake veterinary nurse given suspended sentence

30 September 2011

A woman who worked as a veterinary nurse, despite not having qualified and registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), has been convicted of fraud by false representation at Liverpool Crown Court and was sentenced on 14 September 2011. 

Emma Louise Harris received an eight-month jail term, suspended for two years, and was ordered to carry out 180 hours’ unpaid community service.

Ms Harris had been enrolled at Harper Adams University College on a veterinary nursing degree course but failed to complete it, following expulsion from the course in 2009.

Nevertheless, she held herself out to be a qualified veterinary nurse whose registration with the RCVS was ‘pending’, and worked on this basis for four months at the Barn Lodge Veterinary Hospital in Ormskirk, for which she was convicted under the Fraud Act 2006.

She was also found guilty of theft from the practice.

We assisted Lancashire police in bringing the case to court by providing information regarding Ms Harris’ lapsed status as a veterinary nurse student, and current status as a lay person within the terms of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

“Although such cases are rare, ‘fake’ veterinary nurses do put the public and their animals at risk, and we obviously do all that we can to assist with prosecutions,” says Gordon Hockey, RCVS Head of Professional Conduct and Assistant Registrar.

“The RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council is pushing for statutory regulation for veterinary nurses, to offer greater protection to animals and the public.”

“Ms Harris first came to our practice via a locum agency which claimed to have carried out all relevant checks,” says Austin Kirwan MRCVS, Principal of the Barn Lodge Veterinary Hospital.

“I would warn other employers not to take such screening claims at face value and to carry out additional checks themselves, by calling the RCVS, following up references and checking formal photo ID, such as a passport.”

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