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Fraud and veterinary practices

Before employing a veterinary surgeon or nurse, Practices need to make a number of checks. These include confirmation of their right to work in the UK, that their qualifications are valid, and their registration with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is up to date.


It doesn’t sound too difficult, and yet, in July of this year, the RCVS issued a warning to vet practices, posting a photograph of a man who had successfully impersonated a veterinary surgeon – more than once!

Peter Keniry has been found to have two convictions in his native South Africa, for fraud and for impersonating a vet surgeon. Since then, he has had four convictions for the same offences here in the UK. Having no official qualifications, Mr Keniry uses the identity of a vet surgeon registered with the RCVS and uses their identity to secure work. To date, the courts found he had four different dates of birth and four additional names on the record of previous convictions in the UK. No record of him ever having qualified as a vet surgeon has been found either in the UK or South Africa.

So how was it that Mr Keniry managed, most recently, to spend three years working at a Practice in Swindon in 2011? And then, in 2015, he was hired by a Somerset Practice and spent two years working on small and large animals, as well as horses, before the Practice raised suspicions with the RCVS. Mr Keniry fooled Practices by taking on the identity of vet surgeons who actually were real vets, with valid RCVS registration. The loophole seems to come through lack of visual identity verification.

Areas for consideration

While Mr Keniry is, for now, behind bars, it raises a key area for consideration. Simply checking names against registers is not always sufficient for verifying the identity of a prospective employee. His approach is novel, but it was successful several times. Practice Managers are already under pressure with the day-to-day operational aspects of running the business, and when a new member of staff is needed, it’s usually an urgent requirement, particularly in the case of using Locums. Using a recruitment agency is an accessible option for ensuring this type of fraud is not perpetrated against them. A reputable recruitment agency conducts multiple checks including not only qualifications and RCVS registration but also identity checks: every new candidate registering for work through an agency must provide their passport and copies of it are made and retained on file.

Mr Keniry is out of circulation for now but his sentence is finite, and he will soon be free to perpetuate his fraudulent activity again. Practice Managers need to maintain vigilance in order to protect their patients, their Practice and their reputation.

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