Veterinary public health professional set to shake up the industry in RCVS 2022 election - Veterinary Practice
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Veterinary public health professional set to shake up the industry in RCVS 2022 election

A veterinary health professional with over 15 years’ industry experience is calling for greater wellbeing and mental health provisions to “rebrand” the sector and support undervalued practitioners

Radu Sirbu is the only candidate standing for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Council that has current expertise in veterinary public health and is campaigning to shake up the industry.

After 15 years with Eville & Jones, Europe’s leading provider of official veterinary controls, Radu has seen all sides of the industry. He has worked as a meat hygiene inspector, official veterinarian and now holds a senior managerial position as a regional veterinary manager. He was also previously both a clinical and farm vet when first graduating from the USAMV University in Romania.

Radu is on a mission to modernise the veterinary profession. His top priority is mental health, paying importance to work life balance.

“I passionately believe that vet welfare is essential for animal welfare,” said Radu. “Well-being support should be offered to everyone regardless of specialism or background. I can’t see there has been much progress recently and this needs to be addressed so that there is a more joined up approach.”

Currently Radu feels there is a lack of mental health and well-being guidance across the profession and he wants to ensure that the support he provides to his own team becomes the norm.

Radu loves his job and the sector he works in, which has made him determined to break down barriers and build awareness of veterinary public health, the largest growing area in the industry since Brexit. Vets in this field are responsible for safeguarding the 1.2 billion animals that go through slaughterhouses every year. He said: “There is no other job in the industry where you get to work so closely with animals and people and make a real difference to both. You have enormous responsibility to ensure animals are treated correctly and their welfare is respected, right up until the end.”

To encourage others to join the profession, Radu believes considerable changes should be made to modernise the RCVS statutory membership exam system. He said: “The current exam is outdated and needs to be replaced by something that is more fit for purpose. It must be streamlined and aimed towards specialisms that vets genuinely care about. We also need to make people aware of the different opportunities available to them for interesting and challenging pathways.”

Improvements to the veterinary education system is also on Radu’s list, aiming for an increase in the number of overseas vet schools recognised by the RCVS, for additional practical skills to be included in the recruitment model, and for UK Universities to have capacity for more vets.

On the election, Radu Sirbu commented: “I am proud to be standing as a candidate in this year’s RCVS election. There are simple changes that can make a huge difference to not only increase the number of vets in the industry but to rebuild trust of practitioners who currently feel devalued. I will work with other members of the board to offer more support to our vets rather than putting barriers in place.”

Voting for the RCVS Council election is now open and close at 5pm on Friday 22 April. For more information please visit the RCVS website.

Radu Sirbu who has worked his way up from a farm vet to regional veterinary manager, is running for the RCVS Council. One of his key priorities is to improve the lack of support for mental health in the veterinary public health sector, and to make considerable changes that will improve retention and recruitment. Radu states that “people have been talking about the issue of work life balance for years”, but he feels not enough is being done: “I can’t see that we are making progress. This is something we simply have to address.”

Vets in this field are responsible for safeguarding the 1.2 billion animals that go through slaughterhouses every year: “There is no other job in this industry where you get to work so closely with animals and people and make a real difference to both. You have enormous responsibility to ensure animals are treated correctly and their welfare is respected, right up until the end.”

Over the past year, pressures from Brexit and the pandemic have left the veterinary sector in recruitment crisis. Rules implemented by the RCVS last year demand overseas vets demonstrate the same level of English as that required for students to enter Oxford or Cambridge University – standards EU vets were previously exempt from. Radu says “Some who were accepted in the field for years are now considered not good enough.”

Furthermore, the pressure of recruitment struggles has resulted in longer working hours and higher-pressure environments leaving some existing practitioners feeling undervalued. Radu explains: “We need to offer more support rather than putting up barriers. Wellbeing care should be offered to everyone regardless of specialism or background.”

He states: “When I got to the UK, my first job was in Scotland, working in abattoirs. I was amazed how friendly the people were, how supportive. I really loved it. In many ways that first job set the pattern for all my work in public health and how I try to help the vets that I now manage.”

With immense pride in his work and determination to give public health the recognition it deserves, Radu believes an industry shake up is required. He suggests implementing voice forums for members to receive feedback and thought leadership from Council; deploying “Wellbeing Champions” across the profession to highlight initiatives available to all; launch an online mental health hub to provide ongoing support as well as mental health first aider training.

As well as this, Radu is eager to make the RCVS Council leadership more accessible and approachable to improve communication and flow of information across all areas of the profession. 

Radu adds “Vets simply shouldn’t be suffering in silence. For too long our industry has let its practitioners down. A drastic modernisation of the wellbeing support provided needs to happen – vet welfare is essential for animal welfare.”

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