If two heads are better than one, then it is fair to assume that the combined brainpower of dozens will add up to a formidable analytical tool.
So it proved at the BSAVA summit in London on 16 and 17 December 2019, when veterinarians from all parts of the profession put their minds to tackling some of the main challenges that they are facing today and tomorrow.
The event consisted of five parallel workshops on each day in which attending vets from private practice, industry, academia and the charity sector examined an issue and proposed ways forward that would benefit practitioners, animals, clients and broader society.
The outputs from the discussions were captured and will be summarised and analysed, with the results fed back to the participants and the wider profession. They will help inform the future work of the BSAVA and, it is hoped, will prove valuable to other veterinary bodies, including the RCVS.
Over the two days, the discussions focussed on important issues such as the role of advanced practitioners, the interface between general practice and specialist vets and the risks of overdiagnosis and overtreatment.
The event also included presentations from two distinguished speakers from outside the veterinary world who highlighted what veterinarians can learn from the experience of sister professions.
GP, broadcaster and medical school lecturer Dr Graham Easton compared the patient journey within the NHS with that of clients in small animal practice and looked at the strengths and weaknesses of the services provided in both health systems. He argued that there was much to be learned from each side of the professional divide and proposed joint undergraduate and postgraduate training in areas of shared concern such as end of life care.
Later, Colonel Alison McCourt, chief nursing officer with the British army medical corps spoke on the need for quality leadership when providing healthcare for animals as well as human patients. Describing her experiences in setting up and running a field hospital for medical staff affected by the Ebola disease outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2014, she emphasised how important careful planning, thorough training and constant attention to generating and maintaining a team approach had been to the success of what was considered a highly dangerous mission.
At the close of the two-day meeting, BSAVA president Sue Paterson said she was delighted by the results achieved. “Debate, discussion and reflection were what we were hoping to encourage and we were not disappointed. Our inaugural summit meeting brought together an eclectic mix of veterinary professionals to discuss a wide range of subjects. For BSAVA our proof of concept was exemplified by the attendance and audience engagement, so as we finish Summit 2019, we start plans for 2020. It will be on 14 and 15 December – put it in your diary.”