The 2014 congress of the British Veterinary Hospitals Association was held in June at Chester Zoo.
The first day consisted of lectures and was based at the education department of the zoo. Opening up proceedings was a keynote lecture by Steve Unwin, veterinary officer at the zoo who gave a fascinating view on conservation from a veterinary perspective. He emphasised how important education is in affected countries as well as outlining some of Chester Zoo’s many conservation projects.
Next to speak was Kerry Woodhouse, a specialist in veterinary anaesthesia, whose topic was pain assessment in dogs and cats. This was particularly relevant to the meeting as pain assessment and management play an important part in the upcoming revision of the Practice Standards Scheme.
Kerry outlined the evolution of various pain assessment methods and gave practical advice as to how they could be implemented.
Suzanne Cottriall, physiotherapist at ChesterGates Referral Hospital, gave a presentation on how her work has progressed since she started the hospital’s rehabilitation centre in 2007. She emphasised the need for continuous development and showed us some methods of treatment beyond the usual hydrotherapy.
Later, the topics took a business turn with Ian Millington from Hillyer McKeown Solicitors talking on top employment law tips; Nick Lawrence from Moore-Scarrott Accountants on managing working capital and cash ow; Howard Brown of Petplan gave a view from the pet insurance companies on the future of veterinary practice; and Paul Green from Vets Practice Growth talked about ways to improve a practice’s marketing mind-set and increase the client base.
The lecture sessions finished with Martin Smith giving an RCVS presentation on the latest developments in the Practice Standards Scheme, followed by a discussion on this with the floor. The general feeling seemed to be that the new standards would give a good basis for practice improvement but there was still scepticism as to how much it would benefit marketing.
In the evening the congress returned to Chester Zoo for drinks followed by a private guided safari where we were joined by Steve Unwin who gave us lots of interesting insights. We will all have our favourite memories but everyone seemed to enjoy the visit to the elephant house. We returned to the zoo’s restaurant for a barbecue just in time before the rain started!
Sunday’s sessions started off at ChesterGates Referral Hospital where Suzanne Cottriall and Natalie Culshaw gave practical demonstrations of canine physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. How they can work in those heavy waterproofs at pool temperature!
We then went to visit two practices which were category winners in the 2013 BVHA/Veterinary Practice design awards.
First stop was Cheadle Veterinary Centre, winner of the conversion section. This building was originally a supermarket and Mark Allington told us of the many hoops they had to go through before the project was finally completed. They have certainly achieved a bright, friendly and very workable clinic.
Next stop was Daleside Veterinary Centre in Wrexham, winner of a president’s award for an architectural feature. Daleside is a conversion from a former church. It is something of a feat how they have managed to fit a working clinic into the long, narrow building.
However, for the waiting room the original height and stained glass window have been kept, giving a spectacular airy room. There is also a balcony from the office above looking out onto the waiting area. A particular thank you should be given to both practices for their excellent and very welcome refreshments.
From there it was back to ChesterGates and then home.
- During the association’s AGM, Martin Smith was elected as the new president with Geoff Skerritt becoming senior vice president and Mark Allington junior vice-president.
- Brian Sargeant took over as honorary secretary and Stuart Holland was elected an honorary member in recognition of all his hard work for the organisation. Anne Blackburn continues as treasurer.