South West

The BVA Council regional representative for the South West is Richard Walters.

Members in the South West can contact Richard via the South West forum on the BVA community or via email: southwest@bva.co.uk.

Richard Walters

Richard Walters - manifestoI graduated from Bristol University in 2010 and after a couple of years of mixed practice in West Wales I returned to my roots in South Devon with my wife Naomi. I am still very enthusiastic about mixed practice and take great enjoyment in being a GP for all species. Naomi works as a small animal vet for a corporate practice in Plymouth and so I have experience of ‘both sides’ of modern veterinary practice. 

There are many key issues facing the veterinary profession at the moment. Bovine TB and brachycephalic dogs are two epidemics that are a constant battle for most vets in the South West.

With regard to bTB I have been fortunate to be closely involved with the local agricultural community as well as regional APHA vets and DEFRA policy makers over the last few years. Thankfully we seem to be moving forward with more rounded policy suggestions to tackle the disease from all directions rather than picking a species to blame. I feel that it is essential that local vets remain at the forefront of on-farm disease control in closer collaboration with government vets.

With regard to designer dogs I know that the majority of vets have strong opinions but find strong conflicts of interest when considering voicing them. I feel that it is through bodies such as the BVA that a clear message must be presented outlining the severe problems that these dogs have. A message that does not alienate members of the public who already own or breed these dogs, but encourages puppy purchasers to buy for health over looks. Dog breeding is a supply and demand business and where there is demand there will be a supply from somewhere.

In both these instances negotiating the best way forward is politically challenging. Balancing the opinions of vets across the region so that our views are heard will be a vital part of the job and one I would look forward to.

As far as the humans of the veterinary world are concerned there are also issues that must be addressed. The vicious circle of recruitment problems and workplace stress is a common one that is not easily solved. With business decisions now commonly made away from the coalface it is important that individual vets and nurses can still find job satisfaction attainable, and that their voices are heard. It is essential that the findings of the Vet Futures project filter down to make a real difference to practicing vets. It would be great to work with WCVA on this.

Away from work I enjoy spending time at home living the Good Life on our smallholding with our toothless toy poodle Elsie and her furry, feathered and woolly friends. I also run a small business producing free-range Christmas turkeys reared to the highest welfare standards!

Thank you for taking the time to read my manifesto. It would give me great pleasure to represent my fellow practitioners on the BVA council.