Inspirational leadership - Veterinary Practice
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Inspirational leadership

The Petplan Veterinary Awards were presented in the Birmingham Town Hall on the Thursday evening of the congress. Shown above are Professor Stuart Reid (left), the dean at Glasgow, who received the Petsavers Veterinary Achievement Award, and Mike Hewitt of Wendover Heights Veterinary Centre, Halton, who was named Vet of the Year. Below are David and Carole Clarke, whose Mill House Veterinary Surgery in King’ s L ynn was named Practice of the Year – for the second time. Foot of page: Louise Want of Feldon Veterinary Centre in Leamington Spa receives the Vet Nurse of the Year Award from BVNA president Donna Lewis.

EVERY time I attend the BSAVA’s AGM during the congress I hope for something that will lift it out of a rut.

Thirty years ago we needed a hall that could accommodate 100 or more delegates. Since then the membership of the BSAVA has increased enormously while the number attending the AGM has more than halved.

Dr Richard Dixon has been an inspiring president and his approach to the impending Panorama programme equally so. He said: “The storm over the impending Panorama programme has sometimes felt like knowing the train was going to crash but not knowing on which day to avert your eyes! … Well whatever the final date of screening one thing is for sure. Closing our eyes and hoping the dust quietly settles is not the approach the profession should be taking, and not the one this association will take.

“This is a huge opportunity and one that we must seize. The detail of the accusations remains to be confirmed but a theme of the profession putting commercial gain before patient care seems certain. Whilst individual incidents of bad practice will never be condoned, the vast majority of the interactions between clients, pets and vets are overwhelmingly positive and we intend to get this message over loud and clear.

“Of course bad apples must be dealt with appropriately, but we as a profession must take more responsibility for educating the public. And whether you like it or not, that means the media. Educating them about the good work that is done day in day out by members of our profession committed first and foremost to patient care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week … Panorama is not an issue we should be running scared from. It is a golden opportunity to raise our game and tell it like it is.”

During his address, Dr Dixon announced the winding up of the association’s regional division in the Republic of Ireland. The BSAVA has played a valuable role in supporting the small animal arm of the profession in the south but it was now time for the national organisation, Veterinary Ireland’s Companion Animal Society, to take over sole responsibility for delivering CPD and representing the interests of practitioners. Members in the Republic could continue to enjoy the benefits of BSAVA membership by joining the Overseas Branch, he said.

The following were elected to serve as officers for 2010-2011: president – Grant Petrie, senior vicepresident – Dr Richard Dixon, vicepresident (president-elect) – Andrew Ash, junior vice-president – Mark Johnston, honorary treasurer – Katie Dunn, honorary secretary – Dr Alison Speakman.

Inspirational talk

One of the highlights of the congress this century is the BSAVA lecture on the opening afternoon. This year it was “Touching the Void”, an illustrated description of epic proportions by a mountaineer, Joe Simpson. He told of a disaster that hit him and Simon, his fellow mountaineer, in a remote area of Peru. Joe was unhappy with the label that his talk was motivational – he preferred inspirational, and that is what it was.

It was a tough climb, alpine style, and Joe remarked that reaching the summit was an anticlimax. “The dream” he said, “becomes real when you get there and it is a big letdown.”

The descent, however, was a nightmare. They got into difficulty and Simon had to cut the rope between them. He survived the drop in a crevasse but a major part of his now solo descent was in great pain. It turned out his right tibia was now alongside the femur.

I concluded that no matter what happens to you, there is a good chance that someone else is worse off. By the law of averages there could have been a few suicidal vets in the audience and I wondered whether his inspiration could have been of benefit.

Commercial exhibition

The exhibition seemed to be even larger than usual although it looked as if the largest companies had reduced the size of their stands. In any case there were fewer marketing veterinary medicines following the various mergers. As a result this had released floor space for more stands.

One of the stands that attracted my interest was that of Pie Data Ultrasound where Nitin Patel showed me how more sophisticated software extended the benefits of using ultrasound, especially useful in cardiology. Go to for details.

PetProtect featured a special offer on microchips that could be tied in with its pet health insurance policies. I gather that it was an offer made at the London Vet Show late last year and offered 100 microchips at 99p each and thereafter packs of 100 at £3.50 when registered on line, which seemed a good deal. PetProtect has its own Lost Pet Recovery Service but Silvester Williams on the stand told me that the reader of the chip would give the number to ring by PetLog if they were not on the national database.

Celia Walsom of PetLog, on the Kennel Club stand, told me that if the ID number was not on its database it could not take it any further. This made a nonsense of what seemed to be a good deal if the lost pet could not be reunited with its owner.

After congress I made contact with PetProtect’s microchip ID account manager at head office who said he understood they had an arrangement in place with PetLog. He pointed out that there was a collar tag with each microchip that gave the 0800 number to phone if the pet was lost. But then if collar tags were that secure, there would be no need for microchips in the first place!

Two days later I ran Celia Walsom to ground and she said there would be a clear statement in the next few weeks after current negotiations were resolved but she would not be making any further comment in the meantime. She assures me that Petlog remains fully committed to providing a robust service to both pet owners, vets and the industry.

It’s a case of caveat emptor. Readers should weigh up whether using these microchips is in their clients’ best interests. There is a plus to the PetProtect microchip in that emergency treatment of a lost pet in that recovery phase will be covered by the linked insurance cover – providing one can get the link up through PetLog.

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