Another year over, a new one just about to begin

Posted on December 19, 2014 by John Blackwell

Hounds for Heroes dogs and BVA Officers

I can’t believe that 2014 is almost over, and I can’t believe I have been in post as your proud President for almost 3 months. Members’ Day back in Manchester in September seems like yesterday, but here we are winding down (or should it be gearing up) for Christmas! Linking those two things I was pleased last week to be able to welcome Allen Parton and his canine companions EJ and Rookie to BVA. Allen you may remember is the founder of Hounds for Heroes and spoke very movingly at Members’ Day on the importance of the human/animal bond for rehabilitation and, indeed, the assistance that these well trained dogs provide to servicemen who have been injured in the course of their duty. After sharing some Christmas hospitality I was delighted to be able to present a cheque for £1,300 to the charity on your behalf.

I also presided over my first Council meeting at BVA where, as ever, some robust discussion and debate took place. Council supported the good work of committee members in developing guidance and policy on such issues as on-farm health and safety, pet travel, student debt and financial planning, as well as agreeing to the position on new veterinary schools and an increase in numbers of undergraduate places. Council also commented on the draft Strategic Plan for 2015-2017, which clearly maps our aims and objectives for that time frame, and further looked at the BVA governance review, recognising the importance of collaboration and creating a good and productive working relationship between BVA and its specialist divisions, as well as a structure that ensures members can engage with BVA. We know there are areas that don’t quite function as well as they should, and that’s always the starting point to attempt a fix!

Yesterday (18 December) Defra released the data from the second year of the pilot culls, and we will be working hard to provide our own internal analysis, and start drawing our thoughts together. Headline data would suggest that some concerns still exist surrounding humaneness, whilst effectiveness of removal varied between both areas. As with last year we will have our own internal debates before stating a view publicly, starting with a joint meeting of the Veterinary Policy Group and Ethics and Welfare Group in the new year. I have posted all the relevant links in the BVA community general forum and would be pleased to hear any comments you may have.

There are some exciting challenges next year, not least further development and outcomes from the Vet Futures Initiative which is being carried out between us and the RCVS. Thank you to all those who have already inputted into this venture as interviewees in the research phase and those who have sent in comments, do have a look at the website.

BVA will continue to be proactive on a number of fronts, pressing our mission “To be the leading body representing, supporting and championing the whole UK veterinary profession”. Our visibility continues to develop through the many media requests we receive and much of this is driven by our press releases that reflect what our members’ views are. We have this year developed the Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey panel of over a thousand members which allows us to underpin our releases with hard data. A massive thank you to all those that helped out with this.

So let me end by thanking you for your support thus far in my term of office and wishing you all, whether you are working over the festive period (I am doing my bit back at the practice on Boxing Day) or not, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


John Blackwell

Written by John Blackwell

BVA President from September 2014 to September 2015

John is a farm animal and equine practitioner, and a director at Brownlow Veterinary Centre in Shropshire. Follow John on Twitter