The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
Saint Augustine

As you’ve read in our President’s column this month, the AVA engages with a number of national, regional and global veterinary organisations. This engagement helps us to exchange knowledge on the issues that affect the veterinary profession in our respective countries, contribute to solutions, build capacity and assist those who don’t have ready access to the veterinary resources and expertise that we enjoy in Australia.

We often find that the issues facing the profession are similar, and so are the priorities of veterinary organisations. This is certainly the case in the UK, as I learned on a recent visit where I attended the BVA Congress at the London Vet Show and also spent some time with my BVA CEO counterpart.

London Vet Show

The London Vet Show is a trade show and veterinary education event held at London Olympia each year. The exhibition has over 350 exhibitors, and there are around 6000+ delegates. The show also ‘hosts’ a range of continuing professional development: five clinical streams, a business stream, the BVA Careers Fair, the
BVA Congress and sponsor-led workshops. I attended the BVA Congress, as well as some sessions in the business stream.

This is a big event, and an opportunity to see a different approach to running a conference and exhibition. I was particularly keen to pick up new ways that we can add value for both conference delegates and our exhibitors and corporate supporters. It was nice to see some of those supporters attending for the same reason.

The British Veterinary Association

The BVA used a similar process as we did in 2012 to identify the concerns of our members. Our five strategic priorities are: workforce, economic stability, filling the gap in government veterinary services, better regulation and antimicrobial resistance. The BVA has identified 10 priority issues, which are listed below in no particular order:

  • non-stun slaughter
  • bovine TB
  • responsible dog ownership
  • veterinary surveillance
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • public perceptions of the profession
  • regulation and paraprofessionals  
  • increase in numbers of veterinary graduates
  • tendering for veterinary services
  • veterinarian wellbeing.

These issues were covered in various degrees of detail at the BVA Congress, which is a policy- and issue-focussed meeting held over 2 days. Some of the topics were so familiar, I could almost have been listening to an AVA discussion – except the accents told me I was in Britain!

Learning never exhausts the mind.
Leonardo da Vinci

Vet Futures

Launched at the BVA Congress was an interesting new joint initiative by the BVA and RCVS, called ‘Vet Futures’. It aims to help the profession grapple with some of the 10 issues listed. In essence, it is a project that aims to get to grips with all the ‘unknowns’ that are likely to affect the profession in the UK over time, so that the profession can better “prepare for and shape its own future”.

The project is jointly funded as a collaborative venture and aims to draw on a range of individuals and organisations, including veterinarians and nurses, veterinary bodies, farmers, pet owners and other key stakeholders.

There are three stages to the project – research and evidence gathering, planning and action. The goal is to “help understand where the provision of veterinary services is currently heading, whether this is in the best interests of the profession, animal owners and the public at large, and what might be done to shape an optimal future for the veterinary team, keeping animal health and welfare at its heart”.

You can learn more at www.vetfutures.org.uk and we’ll be following this initiative closely. Can it really help move the profession from ‘problems’ to solutions, and if so should we consider investing in a similar initiative here at home?

Graham Catt
Chief Executive Officer

Source: The Australian Veterinary Association

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