The Wales regional representative on BVA Council is Les Eckford.
We encourage you to contact Les via email: [email protected]
As a veterinarian living and working in Wales for 40 years, I have experienced the challenges facing the profession and their clients, especially the livestock industry. The greatest part of my professional career was in government veterinary service and brought me into contact with a very wide range of people from farmers, and other animal keepers, 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 Policy team in the 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 several 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.
I have seen the dramatic changes that veterinary practices have undergone in keeping pace with farming methods and public expectations in small animal medicine and the commercial pressures together with an increased regulatory environment covering a wide area of activities around practice. Increasing access to information by animal keepers and the public generally has put the veterinary profession under the spotlight. 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. These expectations have a significant impact on the well-being of vets and is a subject I believe needs to be opened up to the wider public to support vets and understand their own responsibilities.
I have supported the Young Vet Network in South West Wales, attending their meetings and have hopefully been a point of reference as an older member of the profession. Knowledge transfer is a two-way street and I have benefited from the contact with younger vets. I see that a major role for the profession will be as communicators of animal and public health subjects and problems, rather 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. In animal welfare, I strongly support the principle that education is a cost-effective mechanism to improve standards for all animals kept by society.
I firmly believe veterinarians can have a pivotal role in explaining the evidence, science, and ethics behind animal health and welfare. BVA, as the national voice of the profession, is central to this. Being the Welsh Regional Representative has allowed me to represent Welsh views in the development of significant policy positions on important issues.