What’s coming up for #teamvet in 2019?

Posted on January 04, 2019 by Simon Doherty

Ringing in the new year always signals for us to pause to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the next 12 months. Since becoming BVA President in September it’s been non-stop, between media interviews, events with politicians and major stakeholders, policy meetings, and the never-ending emails, and I’ve found it’s important to catch a breath and remember why we do what we do at BVA.

We’re guided by our annual policy priorities, which are shaped by our members through BVA Council, to make sure we focus on the things that matter most to the profession. It’s an honour to be BVA President at any time, but it feels particularly momentous to be in post in the year of Brexit and I have no doubt that it will continue to dominate my time.

Brexit and the veterinary profession

The team at HQ are currently working on our responses to the immigration white paper and the Migration Advisory Committee’s call for evidence, alongside our ongoing preparations for a no deal Brexit to help members navigate the uncertainty as much as possible. An unexpected outcome of the EU referendum has been the opportunity for us to raise the profile of vets and promote our value to a wider audience across all of the key areas – workforce, trade, animal welfare, medicines, pet travel. Working with RCVS and our colleagues in Europe via FVE (the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe), we’ll be championing the vital role of the veterinary profession in the Brexit negotiations.

The veterinary workforce continues to be a major focus, under the banner of my presidential theme: One Veterinary Community. I hope you have taken the time to look at our groundbreaking research with the University of Exeter around retentionand discriminationin the workplace. It’s so important that we take action on the findings, so we will be setting up a new BVA working group to develop a voluntary code and guidance for employers on what makes “a good place to work” and will continue to work with Exeter on new research areas as part of our #timeforchange campaign.

Diversity and discrimination

Alongside this campaign, our Junior Vice President Daniella Dos Santos is leading our work on promoting diversity and combatting discrimination in the veterinary profession, working closely with the British Veterinary Ethnicity and Diversity Society (BVEDS), BVLGBT+ and RCVS. We are keen to hear more about people’s experiences – positive and negative – so we can expose the problems, champion the good and collectively find solutions.

Following sign off at BVA Council in December, we will be launching and promoting our vision for the future of the vet-led team, setting out how vets, vet nurses and other allied professionals can best work together in the interests of animal welfare using the model of a hub and spoke approach. We will be working with BVNA and RCVS around the regulation of allied professionals and continuing to push for the title of “veterinary nurse” to be protected.

On veterinary education we will be updating our position on new vet schools and developing our response to the RCVS consultation on graduate outcomes, looking at the future shape and content of the veterinary degree, as part of its #TheBigPicture campaign.

My Vet Future

I’m personally passionate about promoting varied and fulfilling veterinary careers. Last year I was proud to launch My Vet Future, the online careers hub from BVA and Vet Record, and this year we will be developing it further. We want to hear feedback from those who are using the platform, so we can continue to improve the content and functionality. And we will continue to grow our support services and networks for recent graduates with the BVA Young Vet Network and Grads to Vets support programme.  

It’s a BVA mantra that our members are at the heart of everything we do, and this year we will be analysing the results of our recent member research to make sure we are responding to what you want. There’s a lot of detailed work to be done but I’ve seen some of the headlines and I was particularly thrilled to see how highly you rate our campaign work.

Campaigns and looking forward

2019 will bring a lot more campaigning on animal health and welfare, promoting the veterinary profession as the ‘go to’ experts. We’ve had some fantastic success with our #breedtobreathe campaign on brachycephalic welfare and over the Christmas period our new advertising guidelines were featured in Psychology Today and these campaigns will remain a priority. We’ll be promoting the Puppy Contract and kitten checklist, and in January we are raising awareness of health testing in our Canine Health Schemes month.

We don’t shy away from difficult issues and we know that the profession holds strong views about welfare at slaughter. We will be working with RSPCA and others to reignite our campaign on non-stun slaughter. The new trade deals with, for example, Saudi Arabia provide a new angle to raise public awareness of the issue, and we will be setting up a new working group on stunning methods to ensure our policy and campaign work in this area looks at the welfare of all animals at slaughter.

One Health

Another personal highlight for me has been chairing the inaugural UK One Health Coordination Group bringing together leading organisations in veterinary medicine, human healthcare and the environment. This year we will be producing a “One Health in action” report to give tangible examples of how our disciplines can and should be working together, and we will be launching the new BVA position on sustainable animal agriculture – a key piece of work from the BVA animal welfare strategy.

I’ve focused a lot on our external facing work, as that takes up the lion’s share of my time, but there’s a huge amount going on behind the scenes too. We are updating our existing guidance and resources, which we know are valued by members, and we will be launching new guides including a guide to locuming and resources around new licensing legislation.

Other big projects for the HQ team will be developing a new BVA website and managing the move back into Mansfield Street. Work is well underway to make sure that we have a building that our members can be proud of and I am really looking forward to welcoming members later in the year.

Looking ahead there’s a very long to do list and all of it is essential. But we can’t do any of it without the support of our members so I’m incredibly grateful to every one of you. If you want to get more involved with any of our work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Simon Doherty

Written by Simon Doherty

BVA President

Simon Doherty is President of BVA. He is a past-president of the North of Ireland Veterinary Association and of the Northern Ireland Branch of BVA. Simon is a senior lecturer at the Institute of Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast and is a certified aquaculture vet. He is a trustee of livestock development charity, Send a Cow, and of the Animal Welfare Foundation. Simon Doherty became President of BVA in September 2018.