Get ready for the media storm... - Veterinary Practice
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Get ready for the media storm…

Professor BILL REILLY president of the BVA, urges readers to stand firm in defence of this great profession

BY the time you read this, the
thunder clouds may have gathered
and the
Panorama storm could be
buffeting our profession with full
force. But at the time
of writing we’re all
waiting to find out
just how bad this
latest attack will be.

Those of you who
follow the blogs and
the veterinary media
will have picked up
snippets here and
there, but until it airs
all we can do is
remind ourselves why
we got into this
profession and why it
deserves to be

It’s not the first
time, and I’m sure it
won’t be the last, but it
certainly feels as if a few sections of
the media are determined to put us in
a negative light. When these stories hit,
it’s easy to forget all the positive
images of vets in the media.
Programmes such as Animal Park, Zoo
Vet at Large
, and the upcoming World
Wild Vet
, plus the resident vets on daytime chat shows all present
veterinary surgeons as intelligent, hard-
working and caring.

Sadly, all of that can be obliterated
by these types of exposé that will only
ever show the most
extreme cases. It’s
incredibly frustrating
to work so hard and
then get tarred with
the same brush as the
tiny minority who are
being criticised.

From the bits of
information I’ve
heard about the
upcoming Panorama
programme I expect
that those of you in
practice will face a lot
of questions from
concerned clients about what goes on
behind closed doors and who is looking after their animals.
This is a completely natural reaction and the BVA will be advising
its members to set aside a bit of extra
time to deal with these concerns up

It will be a job for the whole veterinary team so it’s worth talking to
your nursing and reception staff about
the issues raised in the programme and
discussing how they can help allay any
client fears.

My greatest worry is that negative
media about vets will reduce the
likelihood of people taking their
animals into the surgery so the more
you can do to maintain the positive
relationships you’ve built up, the

Respect and trust

A key part of instilling a feeling of
trust in your clients is to have a culture
of respect and trust in the workplace.
I’ve always felt it was the missing
ingredient in the veterinary curriculum:
we leave vet school as scientists and
practitioners, not managers and

Many vets find they have a flair for
management and run very successful
businesses, but others find it more

In response to this gap
the BVA has designed a
one-day workshop and
seminar for senior
veterinary surgeons, Getting
the most out of your veterinary
practice team. The course looks at all
aspects of managing and motivating a
team, including communication skills,
management techniques, and
employment law, as well as looking at
issues of stress within the workplace –
something we know is a difficult area
for our profession.

For more junior members of the
team the BVA is running a separate
one-day workshop and seminar, Getting
the most out of your veterinary job
covering communication, employment
issues and the all-important work/life
balance. The courses run on 22nd and
23rd April and more information is
available at

One of the most heartening
elements of the aftermath of Matthew
Watkinson’s article in the Daily Mail
was the high number of pet owners
and veterinary nurses who called into
BBC Radio Five Live’s discussion to
defend us.

We know that the vast majority of vets are doing a really
good job so when the
storm hits the BVA won’t
batten down the hatches
– we’ll be out there
reminding everyone what
a great profession this is.

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