Banging the drum... - Veterinary Practice
Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now



Banging the drum…

THERE are some lonely voices out here who keep on, to the apparent annoyance of some, about the need to bang the drum for the benefit of the whole profession, to speak with a single, trained voice and to put forward a cohesive, rational and HD-ready persona for veterinary surgeons across Britain.

To me, it just makes such straightforward common sense in today’s brittle and ûber-competitive world and, call me Max Clifford if you will, this is the bare minimum that we will have to do to fight off an endless series of skirmishes with those who would, figuratively, eat our lunch.

So, I have no compulsion about banging the drum for the veterinary profession but I was bemused and a tad embarrassed to read, in the Daily Telegraph of 7th April, that “a total of 1,700 vets, animal health inspectors and officials responsible for fighting diseases such as bovine tuberculosis and bluetongue were told to take part in drumming sessions during a series of team building days”.

The report went on to say: “The Animal Health agency, which is part of Defra [sic], spent about £500,000 on a series of one-day conferences around the country to allow staff to meet senior directors and discuss strategy. But many were angered when, amid talks and discussions, they were asked to spend up to an hour taking part in a bongo drumming game organised by a motivational ‘facilitator’.”

Mixed feelings

Having spent countless hours being “facilitated”, I find myself with mixed feelings for the hapless perpetrator of this heinous offence. Part of me says that he or she really should have anticipated the flak that this would inevitably cause should the august pages of the Telegraph pick up on the story and part of me realises that, as the Telegraph did pick up on the story, it will have conveyed just a morsel of its own editorial stance along with the story itself.

Of far greater concern is the suggestion that such away-days are required at huge expense so that staff can meet senior directors and discuss strategy. Business has long since learned that, to discuss strategy, it needs forward thinking people to pose brave ideas for discussion by the smallest possible working party comprised of imaginative, informed executive managers and for the whole thing to be presented as a fait accompli to the Board for ratification.

The one thing that strategy never needs is widespread discussion by 1,700 people, let alone a band of senior directors whose very title requires them to get off their posteriors and get out amongst the troops at field level, not in a series of bingo or bongo-equipped away-days.

Building up rhythms

Apparently, vets were given the instruments and told to make sounds in turn before joining in with others to learn about “building up rhythms”.

Readers may recall that on 1st April 2007 the State Veterinary Service, an executive agency of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), changed its name to Animal Health.

The move brought together, under a single agency, all the expertise previously offered by the SVS, the Dairy Hygiene and Egg Marketing Inspectorates and the Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service.

The formation of this new single body was in line with recommendations made by the Hampton Review, which considered more efficient approaches to regulation and looked at how to cut the time businesses have to spend on paperwork and other regulatory activities.

Is it me, or wouldn’t it make more sense to invest the £500,000 in helping the Animal Health agency to provide the front-line response that so many of its excellent vets want to provide against a developing fabric of widespread disease and to smooth out the rhythmic undulations that successive governments have introduced into the establishment and funding of this vital, veterinary cordon?

Let’s just hope that the auspicious date when the agency was founded will not affect the way its management seeks to develop efficiencies and cut the time spent on other regulatory activities.

Have you heard about our
IVP Membership?

A wide range of veterinary CPD and resources by leading veterinary professionals.

Stress-free CPD tracking and certification, you’ll wonder how you coped without it.

Discover more