More developments on a number of issues have happened since the December update.
Claire Rayner, after hearing about Bella and the problem of MRSA in companion animals, has agreed to become our Honorary Patron. Although she is principally known for her work in human health care (she is the leading figure in the Patient’s Association) Claire has been kind enough to lend her support to my campaign, and for that I give her my sincerest thanks.
I am also extremely grateful to Tim Nuttall, Senior Lecturer in veterinary dermatitis, University of Liverpool, for providing me with a special interview on matters relating to infected dermatitis in dogs. Tim went to a lot of trouble to help me on this and I am very grateful to him.
New research is will soon be on the website. One, by R. Duquette and Tim Nuttall, looks at the emergence over time of MRSA in cats and dogs: the other is a clinical account of the management of a wound infected with MRSA by M Owen, A Moores and R Coe. I’d like to thank Mick Rich (Idexx Laboratories) and Richard Allport for bringing them to my attention.
Dogs Today carried an excellent article in the February issue (it’s out now) called ‘Vets In Malpractice’ that looked at the kinds of problems pet owners have had trying to get the RCVS to deal with incompetent or sadistic vets. It’s a well-written article and deserves to be read.
I made contact with DEFRA and after a long conversation, a Senior Civil Servant said “DEFRA will be looking to include in the new Practice Standards Scheme a modernisation of the 1966 Veterinary Surgeons Act which currently prevents the RCVS from adjudicating cases of professional negligence.” At present, the Government sees the new Act as being enabling rather than regulatory which means that the RCVS is likely to be given greater freedom to determine its own role. Changes will also occur in the regulation of veterinary nurses, but as yet there has been no decision on whether regulation will be carried out by the RCVS as at present or by another body yet to be established.
On the 1st of January the RCVS took over the Practice Standards Scheme. Probably no one will notice any difference for the foreseeable future, but Jeff Gill has said that eventually they want the scheme to be compulsory rather than voluntary. Our aim is to work for changes that will prevent other companion animals from suffering in the way that Bella did, and make veterinary premises safe for animals, staff and owners. Jeff has also said that he’s willing to contribute to the website content and I look forward to hearing from him on that.
I said in December that another dog had become infected with MRSA at Medivet’s Hendon Clinic, and that he needed emergency surgery. Thankfully, he has survived, but is distressed at having had a leg amputated. It’s a cause of sadness to me that the unnecessary loss of a life has been followed by the unnecessary loss of a limb because of the same poor care at Medivet’s Hendon Clinic.
I submitted a complaint to the RCVS regarding the conduct of the ‘nurse’ who was in charge of the Hendon Clinic the night before Bella died, and who refused to treat or care for her because of fear of contracting MRSA herself. This left me in sole responsibility for Bella’s care throughout the last night of her life, and again, I found how ineffective the RCVS can be; their reply said that they did not even regulate students attending their Veterinary Nurse course, and suggested that I make a complaint to the Head Vet at the Clinic. This is in spite of the fact that I already have a complaint outstanding against the head vet who is refusing to be in communication with me.
Following that, I had a meeting with Andrew Dismore, my local MP, to discuss the failings of the present Act and possible routes of action. He is supportive of my efforts and has agreed to contact the RCVS regarding the regulation of students’ conduct, as well as contacting other local agencies in order to develop alternative approaches to improving the care at Medivet.
I also received a letter from the Head of the Professional Conduct Committee, RCVS, Gordon Hockey, in which he says that there were failings in the original consideration of my complaint about Bella’s treatment at Medivet. This was after pressure from my MP and the article in Dogs Today. He also said that he was sorry that it had been such a battle for me to get my complaint reconsidered, and although they won’t look at the issue of MRSA in disciplinary terms, they will re-examine the other important issues my complaint raises. He is impressed with the website and feels that I am bringing important information to pet owners and vets.
We had a letter published in the January issue of Vet Record that drew an immediate rebuttal from the Registrar of the RCVS. Both letters will soon be on the site and we’ll be replying to the rebuttal within the next few days.
Keep the comments and contributions coming in, I’m very grateful for all the interest that the website is generating. There will be extensive media coverage over the next few weeks on the issues that I am trying to take forward, in particular on the lack of professional accountability that means vets do not have to follow any infection control guidelines at all.
An article based on a long interview with me by the Veterinary Times will be coming out at the beginning of February in which we discuss Bella’s lack of care at Medivet and the regulation of vets. I’ve seen the article in draft form and Robin Fearon has been very fair. It also includes a response from the RCVS on some of the points I make. I’ve also written to a number of Government Departments asking that they take a view on what has happened to at least two animals, and quite possibly more, at Medivet’s Hendon Clinic.