Wales

The BVA Council regional representative for Wales is Les Eckford.

Members in Wales can contact Les on the Wales forum on the BVA community or via email: wales@bva.co.uk.

Les Eckford

Les EckfordAs a veterinarian living and working in Wales for almost 40 years, I have experienced the challenges facing the profession and their clients especially the livestock industry. My last appointment in private practice was in Mid Wales after which I joined the government animal health service in Carmarthen. This has been the greatest part of my professional career and brought me into contact with a very wide range of people from farmers through to senior policy makers and representatives of organisations with diverse interests in animal health and welfare.

My last position was as a Veterinary Adviser to the Animal Health team in Welsh Government where I worked with the Welsh branch of the BVA on numerous occasions. This exposure to discussing significant issues and developing policy in a number of fields. required an ability to analyse scientific evidence, communicate effectively and work in a collaborative way to improving animal health and welfare. Exotic disease control, animal welfare and animal waste controls were specific areas of responsibility for me. Recently I have used this experience in interacting with veterinary students in awareness of animal welfare needs in food production animals.

I have seen over the time in spent in the field service the dramatic changes that veterinary practices have undergone in keeping pace with farming methods and the commercial pressures together with an increased regulatory environment covering a wide area of activities around veterinary practice. Increasing access to information by animal keepers and the public generally has put the veterinary profession under the spotlight and increased expectations on what can be delivered. Veterinary practice will be asked to provide assurances, high standards and cost effective solutions to animal health and welfare issues. In addition veterinarians will have to demonstrate their efforts in protecting public health through the animal health standards in the food chain and on important issues such as antimicrobial resistance.

Satisfying these demands will be a challenge for the profession. I see that a major role for the profession will be as communicators of animal and public health subjects and problems than just clinicians or scientists. Getting the public to see their responsibilities in one health should do much to making the role and work of veterinarians better understood and supported.

While improvement in recent years of awareness of animal welfare requirements by animal keepers and the public has occurred, there is still much to be done to reduce stress and suffering to some animals. Education is the cost effective mechanism to improve standards for all animals kept by society.

I have worked for over 10 years in the area of government policy development and seen the effect of EU requirements and national concerns being debated and negotiated. Pressures to change situations come from many angles but veterinarians can have a pivotal role in explaining the evidence, science and ethics behind animal health and welfare. The BVA, as the national voice of the profession is central to this. I hope to be able to be part of this.