Journal news

Daniella Dos Santos, BVA President, responds

I respond as an individual and as BVA president, not as a representative for all signatories of the original letter (VR, 22 February 2020, vol 186, p 220).

Readers can see from these responses to our open letter that the old adage that you ‘can’t please all of the people all of the time’ is as true as it ever was. We have been really pleased to see many people welcoming and sharing the letter, but unfortunately this positive feedback comes hand in hand with comments that serve to prove our point while the authors miss it entirely.

At BVA we have always expected that members of the profession may interrogate, challenge or even criticise some of the positions that we take; this is a fundamental part of shaping and setting policy and something that we both invite and welcome. I note that the letters have no specific challenge...

Categories: Journal news

Our veterinary leaders need to show us some backbone

What a pathetic, weak-willed letter from the leaders of our profession (VR, 22 February 2020, vol 186, p 220).

It is clearly self-evident that the disparaging and demeaning language referred to in the letter and used by some members of our profession in social media and online forums is totally unacceptable and intolerable.

However, surely the solution is to deal with it with some vigour, by directly challenging the culprits and the moderators who should be policing the sites concerned – not by bleating to the rest of us how unkind and unfair it all is.

Please show us some backbone and demonstrate why we were right to elect or appoint you to your current important leadership roles in the first place.

Categories: Journal news

Gathering information on gundog retirement

All too often we seem to have to retire gundogs prematurely from working, and while we think we know the common reasons for why this is, the truth is no-one has reliable information. As such, I have launched an online questionnaire to collect information as to why gundogs in the UK are retired or stop working. The information collected will be used to produce a publication about the impact of health on the working life of gundogs.

Please help me by asking your clients with working gundogs to complete the questionnaire for each dog they have retired or that has died in the past 10 years (ie, between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2019). It takes approximately three minutes to complete the questionnaire, which can be accessed at:

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Categories: Journal news

Death notices

Richardson On 9 June 2019, Susan Philippa Richardson, BVM&S, MRCVS, of Axminster, Devon. Miss Richardson qualified from Edinburgh in 1983.

doi: 10.1136/vr.m979

McGillivray On 5 September 2019, John McGillivray, BVMS, MRCVS, of Dorking, Surrey. Mr McGillivray qualified from Glasgow in 1991.

doi: 10.1136/vr.m980

Rae On 3 February, 2020, Alastair Montgomery Rae, BVM&S, MRCVS, of Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire. Mr Rae qualified from Edinburgh in 1968. His father, Alan Gordon Rae, and his younger brother, Douglas Graham Rae, also qualified from the ‘Dick’ vet school.

doi: 10.1136/vr.m981

Categories: Journal news

Lines of communication with clients

Successfully communicating with clients is central to good veterinary care. But it can be difficult to get right – and when communication challenges crop up they can have a direct impact on your levels of stress and wellbeing. Here, Christine Magrath talks through some common scenarios and how to manage them effectively.

Categories: Journal news

Using ICE to unfreeze a conversation

Mr Turner’s nine-year-old boxer, Maisie, was brought into the surgery last week after having problems breathing. Maisie was accompanied by Mr Turner’s 18-year-old daughter and, by the time they arrived, had collapsed. Maisie was admitted and resuscitated but further investigations revealed a cardiomyopathy and she died later that evening. Today your receptionist colleagues have been struggling to deal with Mr Turner, who is adamant he will not pay the large bill he is facing.

What might happen?

The vet who treated Maisie insists she informed Miss Turner of the potential costs of treatment and that she was polite and efficient when speaking to her. Meanwhile the practice team is rapidly seeing Mr Turner as a difficult client or a bad debtor.

What could more valuably happen?

By genuinely listening to Mr Turner, you are able to pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues about what is actually upsetting...

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The power of politeness

To what extent is politeness a priority in your practice? With mounting evidence showing rudeness affects the performance of a healthcare team and the wellbeing of its members, it may be time to put it higher on the list. Claire Read speaks to Chris Turner, founder of Civility Saves Lives, to find out more.

Categories: Journal news

Time to take a breath

With the pressures and demands of veterinary practice, it can sometimes feel like there isn’t even time to breathe. But, as Chloé Hannigan explains, taking a moment to consciously do just that can yield real benefits.

Categories: Journal news

'My ambition was to be the vet farmers asked for when they rang

Dairy Vet of the Year Sarah Tomlinson is a farm vet who likes to go the extra mile. She is also passionate about helping farmers use every tool they have to eradicate bovine TB.

Categories: Journal news


Wellbeing in practice is the subject of a series of four CPD courses being presented by the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) and the Veterinary Management Group (VMG). The courses make the business and management case for investing in workplace wellbeing.

They will be held on 25 March in Bristol, 13 May in Solihull, 16 September in Edinburgh and 25 November in Surrey.

The one-day events will include:

  • An introduction to wellbeing in the workplace by a member of the workplace wellbeing team at Mind, the mental health charity.

  • Tracey Morley Jewkes of Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service, will draw on case studies from four years of SPVS/MMI Vet Wellbeing Awards and her own experience to offer practical and achievable ways to improve wellbeing in any practice, large or small. She is joined by team members from Vet Wellbeing Award winning practices.

  • Senior human...

  • Categories: Journal news

    Getting serious on bovine TB

    If the government had been searching for some direction for its long-awaited response to the Godfray review on the management of bovine TB (bTB), it got some very clear messages from cattle vets at their conference last October.

    The British Cattle Veterinary Association meeting signalled a new mood and appetite for evolving the existing strategy.

    Any government officials in attendance would have heard the message loud and clear – vets needed to be more empowered and centre stage if the government stood a hope of meeting its ambition for England to be officially bTB free (OTF) by 2038. Certainly, government strategy could not serve up more of the same.

    Last week, the government finally published its response to the Godfray review and, to its credit, it seems to have listened.

    Its report sets out plans for the next five years and is a thoughtful and nuanced read. There is...

    Categories: Journal news

    RCVS may relax guidance due to Covid-19

    Josh Loeb

    Safeguarding human life must be prioritised over helping animals, the RCVS has said.

    Amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, the college’s guiding principle will be that ‘human health and safety must come first’, its chief executive has informed council members.

    The comments came as the RCVS acknowledged that vets and registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) may be required to depart from normal veterinary guidance because of the ‘exceptional circumstances’ engendered by the outbreak.

    As the situation progresses, the college may opt to relax its expectations of vets and RVNs.

    It could take a more charitable view if, for example, they refuse to provide care to animals in the homes of people who are self-isolating.

    College president Niall Connell last week wrote to all vets and vet nurses to make clear that, while animal health was always ‘the first concern when attending to animals’, ultimately safeguarding human health must take...

    Categories: Journal news

    Legal loophole closed for non-EU graduates

    Josh Loeb

    RCVS council has voted to close a Brexit loophole that could have enabled some graduates who previously failed the statutory membership examination to register to practise as vets in the UK without passing a re-sit.

    The legal loophole formed part of a bilateral agreement on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications that the college signed with Ireland last year in the run up to 31 October.

    At that time, a no-deal Brexit was thought to be a distinct possibility – indeed, RCVS president Niall Connell went as far as to describe the agreement between the RCVS and the Veterinary Council of Ireland as a ‘vital element of future proofing’.

    In the end, parliament succeeded in delaying Brexit, leaving more time to re-examine the agreement. Vet Record understands that, when the college looked at it again, it became apparent that the agreement was phrased in such a way...

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    'Success in the show ring may lead to a boom in demand

    Vets fear that awarding this year’s Crufts ‘best in show’ accolade to a dachshund may prompt a further rise in the popularity of the breed, which can suffer from serious health problems.

    All six varieties of dachshund – standard long-, smooth- and wirehaired, and their miniature counterparts – are at risk of spinal and neurological issues, including intervertebral disc disease, as a result of their body shape.

    Maisie, a two-year-old wirehaired dachshund (pictured with her owner), took top spot in the Crufts final, having earlier won the hound group. During the judging of the hound group, shortlisted dogs also included a miniature smooth-haired dachshund and a basset hound, another breed bred to have a long, low body and short legs.

    BVA president Daniella Dos Santos said: ‘We’re concerned that seeing a dachshund crowned top dog at Crufts could lead to a further rise in their popularity and related increase...

    Categories: Journal news

    Government sets out a new plan for bovine TB management

    Josh Loeb

    Defra has set its sights on developing a deployable bovine TB (bTB) vaccine for cattle within five years.

    Within the same time frame, the department says it must also have developed a fully operational test to distinguish infected animals from vaccinated ones.

    These were among numerous steps outlined in Defra’s detailed 109-page response to an independent review of its 25-year bTB strategy, led by Sir Charles Godfray.

    That review, published in 2018, had highlighted concern about whether the government had any ‘exit strategy’ from its policy of repeated, intensive badger culls.

    Last week Defra published its long-awaited response, in which it announced its drive for a cattle vaccine alongside ‘increased support’ for badger vaccination, measures designed to improve surveillance and interventions aimed at incentivising best practice in biosecurity.

    Work on the differentiation test, known as a DIVA test, is being seen as a ‘top priority’ in the...

    Categories: Journal news

    New online platform for horse passports

    By Adele Waters

    The government is to allow horse owners to update equine passports online for free.

    Lord Gardiner, minister for rural affairs, biosecurity and animal health, made the announcement at last week’s National Equine Forum conference in London.

    He said a new digital platform – Digital Stable – would be supported by a government-targeted communications campaign to remind owners of their responsibilities to register horses.

    ‘We will impress on current owners both the legal requirements they must meet and the wider importance of updating their central equine database (CED) records,’ he said. ‘They will be able to do so as normal via their equine passport issuing organisations (PIOs); however, with the assistance of PIOs, we will also be allowing owners to do this themselves through the CED’s Digital Stable for free.’

    The platform will allow both new horse owners and sellers to register/deregister their ownership online – and...

    Categories: Journal news

    Kenyan government announces ban on donkey slaughter

    Kenya has joined other neighbouring countries in outlawing the slaughter of donkeys.

    Last month the Kenyan government announced the ban following pressure from equine charities (Brooke, Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad, World Horse Welfare and the Donkey Sanctuary) who have been jointly highlighting the scale of donkey slaughter globally for the past three years.

    The Donkey Sanctuary’s report ‘Under the Skin’ said the equids have never been more under threat and warned that donkeys could face extinction within a matter of years if no action is taken.

    Last year Vet Record reported on the global trade for donkey skins, fuelled by China’s demand for donkey skins, used to manufacture the Chinese herbal remedy Ejiao (VR, 14 December 2019, vol 185, pp 714-715).

    Kenya was considered a hub for the skin trade and is the final country in East Africa to introduce a ban. The African supply chain...

    Categories: Journal news

    Revised system for RCVS confidential papers

    By Josh Loeb

    The RCVS has introduced a new system for referencing council papers containing confidential or private information.

    At last week’s council meeting it set out five reasons for not making information public and for discussing matters within closed sessions (see box).

    The move follows calls for the RCVS to be more open about its rationale for making certain information confidential or private (VR, 8 Feb 2020, vol 186, p 138).

    Where possible, by default, papers will be unclassified

    RCVS president Niall Connell said the college wanted to ensure that as much information as possible was unclassified. ‘Where possible, by default, papers will be unclassified. If an entire paper is deemed confidential or private, it will be watermarked as such throughout to show the relevant classification,’ he said.

    Connell has previously said that some discussions by RCVS council need to be able to happen in a ‘safe...

    Categories: Journal news

    Encouraging the public to check before buying online

    The government is calling on the public to play their part in tackling the illegal puppy and kitten trade.

    Its ‘Petfished’ campaign encourages prospective owners to be aware of illegal, low-welfare breeders and look for ‘red flags’ when buying a new pet. These include asking for deposits up front, advertising different breeds or combinations of breeds, and changing locations when organising to meet up.

    The slogan for the campaign is ‘Who is the person behind the pet?’ and it encourages members of the public to do a few quick checks and research a seller before getting in touch about buying a new pet.

    ‘Petfished’ comes from the term ‘catfished’, when someone is lured into a relationship by a fictional online persona. It refers to deceitful pet sellers who use a similar tactic to trick buyers.

    The launch of the campaign coincides with the ban on commercial third party puppy...

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