Project Listen report recognises industry-wide need for change - Veterinary Practice
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Project Listen report recognises industry-wide need for change

Data from Vets4Pets inaugural Project Listen report highlights an industry-wide need for increased support and recognition, with 47 percent of vet professionals expressing concerns over their work/life balance

Vets4Pets, part of the Pets at Home Group, has published its inaugural “Project Listen” report on the UK’s veterinary sector. The report highlights the shared passion and dedication of veterinary professionals to provide first class care for the nation’s pets, alongside an industry-wide need for increased support and recognition.

Vets4Pets engaged with over 700 vets, nurses and support teams to better understand the key challenges facing the profession and the potential opportunities to drive positive change in their Project Listen report.

The Project Listen report was conducted amid a backdrop of increasing demand for veterinary care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with ongoing recruitment challenges, with the results suggesting that these factors had led to a significant number of veterinary professionals (47 percent) expressing concerns over their work/life balance. While 60 percent of veterinary professionals rated their current health and well-being as “excellent”, “good” or “neutral”, the remaining 40 percent selected “not that good” or “poor” based on increased pressures and a substantial workload.

Respondents also highlighted the negative impact that client behaviour can have, with 61 percent citing the need for more support in this area as the most important factor in achieving good health and well-being. This was ahead of mental health support, which was acknowledged as the second most important factor.

The results of this Project Listen report support the need for industry-wide action across the profession and Vets4Pets has already started work on its own change agenda. As part of its aim to stimulate positive change for all members of the profession, it has introduced a number of commitments to better support the working lives of its colleagues and partners, including a partnership with the veterinary flexible working group, Flexee, to better support practices with operational demands, for example by defining the flexible working options available for all roles.

Furthermore, through the development of a new and innovative practice model, the Group is aiming to optimise the client experience, increase the proportion of time that vets can dedicate to clinical work and improve the overall work/life balance within practices.

In addition, Vets4Pets has committed to providing a trained Mental Health First Aider in every practice – building on the 300 CPD-accredited Mental Health First Aiders it has trained already, developing an enhanced leadership development programme and partnering with VetLed for additional training to support teams in client engagement. It is also aligning its working values and behaviours with those of the British Veterinary Association (BVA)’s good veterinary workplaces code.

Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “In publishing this Project Listen report we wanted to start a vital conversation on protecting the well-being of veterinary teams and the future of the profession. We’ve listened to the feedback from hundreds of professionals and while it’s encouraging to see the huge passion that we all share in providing clinical excellence, we recognise that there are still many opportunities to improve the perception of the profession as an attractive, long-term career option.

“We now have an opportunity to come together to bring about much-needed change and we’re starting that journey by setting a number of clear commitments which will enable us to better support the health and well-being of our colleagues and partners.”

Gudrun Ravetz, BVSc, GDL, MRCVS, past president off the BVA, added: “Vets4Pets has been proactive in its commitment to understanding the needs of the veterinary workforce and designing a practice-led solution. Adopting the BVA’s good veterinary workplaces code as the foundation for positive progression across the organisation will bring focus and practical, achievable solutions that can drive positive and enduring change; a good veterinary workplace.”

To find out more about Project Listen, read the full report

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