AN OVERWORKED vet who ran her Witney practice ‘single-handedly’ has been suspended for six months for ‘disgraceful conduct’.

Sue Mulvey, practice principal at the CornYard Veterinary Centre in Spinners Court, was deemed to pose a ‘risk of injury’ to animals in her care.

The sanctions relate primarily to a cat named Spooky and a dog called Henry, who she failed to provide clinical notes for in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

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A Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) hearing last month was told how Mrs Mulvey, as CornYard’s sole practicioner, struggled to maintain professional standards due to her intense workload.

Last June, she was placed under a workplace supervisor, Stuart King, who revealed the vet sometimes ‘slept on the building's second floor’ in a bid to fulfil her duties.

He said: “She would deal with the animals first before running the business and she found the workload a challenge at times, especially when having to nurse in-patients through the night.

Witney Gazette:

“Dr Mulvey… opted to sleep on the premises in a room above on the second floor. She was running a practice literally single-handedly.”

In April 2018, the RCVS Disciplinary Committee held a hearing relating to Mrs Mulvey’s treatment of Spooky.

The vet admitted failing to communicate adequately with the cat’s owner, ‘Mrs Parsons’, or the RCVS, in late 2016.

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The College said this ‘caused anxiety’ to Spooky’s owner, who wanted to know what had caused a skin condition in the animal.

Sanctions were postponed for a year, providing Mrs Mulvey complied with several ‘undertakings’, including being supervised by Mr King.

The surgery is due to move into bigger premises next door in September, and Mr King recalled how the lack of space was hampering its services.

He said: “The paraphernalia of a multivet practice had been squeezed into the two rooms which were inevitably cluttered.

“Stray cats were often boarded for the RSPCA and, from time to time, there was a strong smell of cat urine throughout the premises.

Witney Gazette:

“Space was at a premium and it was difficult to keep it clean and tidy.”

But in the intervening year, Mrs Mulvey breached the ‘most important’ undertakings, including to ‘implement recommendations made by the supervisor relating to the administration of the practice and the provision of out-of-hours’ cover’.

At the latest hearing, on May 10 this year, the vet also faced charges relating to an English cocker spaniel named Henry, following a sequence of events starting just two weeks after the initial hearing.

The RCVS heard how in early 2018, Henry’s owner, 'LC', was ‘unimpressed with the state of the practice, including its lack of cleanliness and its unpleasant smell’.

She decided to change practices and asked for Henry to be transferred to the Tremain Veterinary Group on Farm Mill Lane on May 9 last year.

The owner wanted Henry’s clinical history to be passed to Tremain, but Mrs Mulvey did not hand the documents over, despite five separate requests between May and October.

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The records were never provided and on October 30 Henry collapsed and was taken to Tremain.

He was diagnosed with acute cardiac crisis and was put down, although the lack of records meant the college ‘did not know’ whether Henry had suffered any harm as a result of Mrs Mulvey’s failures.

During the period, Mrs Mulvey also failed to respond to the College several times regarding her conduct.

Witney Gazette:

Michael Hepper, barrister and chief investigator at the College, visited CornYard on February 1 this year.

Mrs Mulvey told him she had not replied to the College’s letters because of her ‘heavy work commitments’ and her negotiations with her landlord for better premises.

Despite the committee agreeing that a six month suspension was ‘in the public interest’, Mrs Mulvey was also praised for creating a ‘small enthusiastic team’ at the practice, with an ‘excellent atmosphere’.

The College was also optimistic that the vet was ‘well prepared’ for better premises.

The hearing was told that the ‘care and skill she shows to the animals in her care was not in doubt’ and so losing her ability to practise would be a ‘source of real distress to Dr Mulvey’ and a ‘great loss to the community she serves’.

The College revealed the suspension would start 28 days after the hearing, which would be this coming Friday.

Mrs Mulvey confirmed CornYard will stay open during her suspension, but did not provide a full statement.