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Something for everyone at small animal congress

LAST MONTH’S BSAVA CONGRESS, held in central Birmingham and celebrating its 60th anniversary, was a roaring success. The Barclaycard Arena was transformed into a maze of lively exhibitor stands and a great array of talks was on offer at the ICC over the course of the four days. From how to perform telephone triage to managing canine hypercalcaemia and how to remove an anal gland, the programme offered something for everybody – veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, practice managers, and those interested in overarching topics such as welfare and technology. Telemedicine and new technologies were the focus of the Thursday morning press conference, which involved a hearty discussion about the development of technology use in the veterinary industry. The expert panel was chaired by Ross Allan, BSAVA public relations officer, and included David Catlow, a member of the RCVS Council, which is holding a public consultation for vets regarding technology developments. The responses to the RCVS consultation will be analysed and the results used to inform recommendations towards the end of the year. Discussion topics ranged from the usefulness of wearable technology (for animals, vets and pet owners alike) and how to best use the “big data” obtained from these, to the challenges surrounding remote consultations. It was largely agreed that the UK is asserting “healthy scepticism” on the topic, apparently taking a cautious approach to integrating new technology and in doing so, falling behind the increasing use of telemedicine in other parts of the world.


The BSAVA awards ceremony took place on Friday afternoon to recognise excellence in small animal veterinary practice. Notable awards included:

  • The Frank Beattie Travel Scholarship of £2,000 – which allows a BSAVA member to undertake a trip abroad to study a particular aspect of veterinary practice – was awarded to Dr Elise Robertson, who operates a peripatetic feline medicine and endoscopy/endosurgery referral service (canine and feline) for over 80 practices in south-east England. She also offers a quarterly referral service from hospitals based in both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
  • The Amoroso Award, presented for outstanding contributions to
  • small animal studies by a non-clinical member of university staff, was awarded to Sarah Baillie, who has recently led a major curriculum review at Bristol Vet School. She has a diverse portfolio of educational research including assessment, peer-assisted learning, professionalism and business skills.
  • The Melton Award, presented to veterinary surgeons in general practice for meritorious contributions to the profession, went to
  • Ross Allan of the Pets‘n’Vets family in Glasgow. He has been involved with many aspects of the BSAVA, first volunteering as part of a regional committee before taking on the role of chair of the International Affairs Committee and, latterly, public relations officer.
  • The Simon Award – presented to a BSAVA member for outstanding
  • contributions in the field of veterinary surgery – went to Eithne Comerford, professor of Small Animal Surgery (and head of Musculoskeletal Biology) at the University of Liverpool.
  • The Woodrow Award – presented for outstanding contributions in
  • the field of small animal veterinary medicine – went to Dr Penny Watson, a senior lecturer in Small Animal Medicine at the Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital, Cambridge.
  • The J. A. Wight Memorial Award, presented annually by the Blue Cross animal welfare charity to recognise outstanding contributions to the wellbeing of companion animals, went to Paula Boyden, veterinary director of Dogs Trust and who also sits on the BVA’s Policy Committee and the BSAVA’s Scientific Committee.
  • The Blaine Award – presented for outstanding contributions to
  • the advancement of small animal veterinary medicine or surgery – was given to Noel Fitzpatrick, director and chief clinician at Fitzpatrick Referrals Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery, director of the Fitzpatrick Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Centre, Fitzbionics, and Fitzpatrick Referrals Oncology and Soft Tissue Surgery. He has developed more than 30 new techniques and is the first professor of orthopaedics at the University of Surrey School of
  • Veterinary Medicine. He has founded The Humanimal Trust, the ONE Live music festival and the VET Festival to help fund medical research that may symbiotically benefit animals and humans.
  • The Bourgelat Award, presented for outstanding international contributions to the field of small animal practice, went to Dr Edward Feldman, emeritus professor of Small Animal Internal Medicine at the University of California, Davis. He has authored more than 160 peer-reviewed scientific publications, 110 scientific abstracts, and 75 book chapters and is co-editor with Dr Ettinger of the Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine and coauthor of Canine and Feline Endocrinology.
  • The PetSavers Award – presented to the author of the best clinical research paper published in the JSAP during the 12 months ending 30th September 2016, was given to Silvia Sabattini for her paper: “Differentiating feline inflammatory bowel disease from alimentary lymphoma in duodenal endoscopic biopsies”.
  • The Dunkin Award, given to the author of the “most valuable article” published in the JSAP by a small animal practitioner during the same 12 months, was presented to Daniella McCready for her two-parter: “Systematic review of the prevalence, risk factors, diagnosis and management of meniscal injury in dogs”.
  • Professor Mike Willard, professor of small animal clinical science and associate editor for the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, took the JSAP Achievement Award.
  • Dr Heike Dorn – sole vet for five Isles of Scilly – took the new Ray
  • Butcher Award, which recognises an individual who has made a significant contribution to animal welfare in the community.
  • The Bruce Vivash Jones Veterinary Nurse Award went to Hayley Walters, part of the anaesthesia team at the Royal (Dick) in Edinburgh and who also teaches animal welfare, nursing and clinical skills to veterinary students in developing countries (she is the first veterinary nurse to sit on the BSAVA’s International Affairs Committee).

Joy and benefits of companion animals

Keynote speaker Chris Packham was welcomed to the stage by BSAVA president, Professor Susan Dawson. The naturalist has a strong stage presence; having only just hopped off a plane from the other side of the world, he spent a good proportion of his time in the spotlight talking about the joy and benefits that companion
animals bring to the world. Chris didn’t spend much time talking about his work in the conservation field as may have been expected; instead he advised the vets in the room on how best to run their practices – advice extracted principally from personal experiences with his dog’s treatment at his local veterinary surgery.
On the Friday evening, 600 or so individuals sat down to a glamorous diamond-themed dinner, with musical entertainment coming courtesy of the “Chip Shop Boys”. The BSAVA reports that nearly 7,000 delegates were welcomed to this year’s congress, accessing more than 450 lectures and practical sessions. Next year’s congress will follow a slightly different format, with the exhibition running for three days (rather than the usual four) and the Sunday being entirely focused on CPD.

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