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Supply of Official Veterinarians

14 February 2019

There has been much talk in the veterinary press about the likely increase in demand for Official Veterinarians (OVs) in the event of a no-deal Brexit (eg, VR, 26 January 2019, vol 184, pp 108-109).

Solutions such as employing non-veterinary ‘certification support officers’ and drafting vets in from abroad have been put forward.

What puzzles me is that I do not see any attempt to recruit more OVs in the UK – there are certainly no positions advertised in the careers section of Vet Record. As is evident from workforce surveys, many vets work part-time and might be willing to work as OVs. During the foot-and-mouth disease crisis many extra OVs were drafted in from across the UK, so surely this could be replicated in a no-deal crisis?

Categories: Journal news

Are 'Grit scores useful?

14 February 2019

I am writing regarding the short communication ‘Grit score and its relationship to successful enrolment in specialist veterinary training’ .1

The authors refer to Credé and colleagues’ 2017 meta-analysis,2 summarising that ‘grit is only moderately correlated with performance and is more strongly correlated with conscientiousness’. I would nonetheless suggest interested parties read this paper in full. Credé and colleagues raise significant concerns with grit as a construct and the original work (including mathematical errors) that generated it, but take great care not to dismiss it entirely and offer researchers some positive thoughts. For example, they say, ‘assessment of grit [as a predictor of success] may be useful in settings in which retention is problematic’ and suggest that the perseverance facet holds most promise.

Without wishing to cherry pick quotes, it is worth highlighting a couple of the main findings.

First, ‘grit exhibits relations with academic...

Categories: Journal news

What are the best metrics to monitor antibiotic use?

14 February 2019

I am concerned about the increasing blinkered focus on mg/kg population corrected unit (mg/kg [pcu]) as the sole metric of monitoring antibiotic use in the dairy industry. Although other metrics are reported, all too often mg/kg (pcu) is the metric that is used to define success or failure.

Mg/kg (pcu) is an effective metric to make comparisons between countries because of simplicity of data collection. It no doubt assisted in the impetus to address levels of antibiotic use in food production. When used as a metric for comparison and benchmarking it was always intended to be used in conjunction with dose-based metrics, for example, actual daily dose (ADD), defined daily dose (DDD) and defined course dose (DCD). Mg/kg (pcu) does not define the number of treatments it merely defines the amount of active ingredient. Additionally, it cannot be used as an indicator of welfare standards, and welfare should never...

Categories: Journal news

Integrating human and pet healthcare

14 February 2019

We read Anthony Andrews’ letter on integrating human and animal welfare for those on the streets and the Streetvet response with interest (VR, 26 January 2019, vol 184, pp 128-129). It highlights the need for human and animal support services, which is something we are providing in Suffolk. Our Special Friends is a charity that supports vulnerable pet owners and works in partnership with human health and social care; as well as vets and animal charities.

Our approach is to span the divide, keeping people and their pets together if possible

We are filling a gap in community care by providing services dedicated to supporting the wellbeing of both people and their pet in times of need. Many charities help vulnerable people while others work with animals. Our approach is to span the divide – working with both human and animal-focused organisations – keeping people and their pets...

Categories: Journal news

Death notices

14 February 2019

Brockis On 2 February 2019, David Charles Brockis, BVetSts, FRCVS, of Ruthern Bridge, Bodmin, Cornwall. Mr Brockis qualified from London in 1951.

doi: 10.1136/vr.l1678

Downes On 26 June 2018, James Edward Downes, BVetSts, MRCVS, of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. Dr Downes qualified from London in 1954.

doi: 10.1136/vr.l1566

Gledhill On 23 January 2019, Kenneth Charles Gledhill, MRCVS, of Holt , Norfolk. Dr Gledhill qualified from London in 1945.

doi: 10.1136/vr.l1567

Hart On 8 February 2019, Charles Barrington Hart, BSc, CBiol, FSB, MRCVS, of Sheffield. Mr Hart qualified from London in 1946.

doi: 10.1136/vr.l1679

Nimmo On 20 January 2019, John Percy Nimmo, BA, VetMB, MA, MRCVS, of Lowgill, Lancaster. Dr Nimmo qualified from Cambridge in 1996. doi: 10.1136/vr.l1568

Ockey On 2 February 2019, John Henry Ockey, MRCVS, of Aberystwyth, Ceredigion. Mr Ockey qualified from Liverpool in 1946.

doi: 10.1136/vr.l1680

Reid On 24 January 2019, John Hodgart Reid, BVetSts, MRCVS, of Shifnal, Shropshire....

Categories: Journal news

Looking after interns and residents

14 February 2019

I found the correspondence about postgraduate education and internships for veterinary surgeons interesting for three main reasons (VR, 19 January 2019, vol 184, pp 99-100).

There is a need to recognise and respect the members of a team in a clinical practice environment; a need to develop the postgraduate skills of the veterinary surgeons and to recognise that development when achievements have been made; and a need to reward achievement in the learning which contributes to the success of the team.

There does appear to be enormous variation and lack of control over the use of the word ‘internship’, which has caused me to think seriously about the shortcomings of the use of this word in our profession. My understanding of its definition is that it should provide experience for the participant, leading to a recognised qualification. Many reports I hear from vets looking at or participating in internships...

Categories: Journal news

The faces of feminisation

14 February 2019

I have never seen my gender as a relevant factor to my career as a veterinary surgeon.

However, other people seem to feel differently.

I’ve seen studies that question whether I am a threat or an opportunity to this profession. I’ve been aware of lectures at CPD events debating whether the veterinary sector is going to be able to cope with the long-term effects I might have on it, and I’ve read threads on online discussion forums that argue that I am to blame for the employment crisis, the pay gap and even the lack of vets wanting to stay in first-opinion practice.

All because of my gender.

The feminisation of the profession is discussed as though it is nothing more than a concept, but it is about me. It is about my best friends, my colleagues, all the women I have done tequila slammers with at BSAVA party...

Categories: Journal news

Raymond John Imberger

14 February 2019

Always known as ‘the Australian vet’, he had an integral role at a number of equine studs. His empathy and intuition with animals were renowned.

Categories: Journal news

Developing an assertive approach

14 February 2019

Do you often try to keep others happy rather than putting yourself first, and then find you regret it? Do you find yourself saying ‘yes’ when you really wanted to say ‘no’?

Within the veterinary profession we see a lot of caring, supportive and peacemaker personalities who prioritise maintaining harmony and avoiding confrontation, even if it’s at their own expense. If you recognise these traits in yourself, you may be thinking that the only person who comes off badly in this is you. But, let me ask you a question – in these situations, are you really being honest and fair with your colleagues?

What is assertiveness?

To understand how to be more assertive, we need to be clear about what assertiveness is. To be assertive means to be open and honest about our opinions and needs, while having consideration for the needs of others. It is stating clearly,...

Categories: Journal news

What will farmers want from vets in the future?

14 February 2019

Large animal vet John Remnant recently won a Nuffield Scholarship, which will allow him to take some time out from his day job to explore what farmers need from the veterinary profession.

Categories: Journal news

New CPD facility

14 February 2019

Lord Trees has officially opened the British Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (BSAVA’s) extended teaching facilities at Woodrow House, Gloucestershire. These include a new practical wet lab equipped to share learning with a remote audience and a hi-tech lecture room. Meeting rooms include video conferencing technology and large presentation screens, offering modern working environments, energy-saving innovations and break-out areas. Outside there are electric car charge points, bicycle racks and landscaping. With the wildlife and the environment in mind, boxes were built into the walls and a small pond and log pile were created. The two-year transformation was unveiled at an open day on 11 January, during which Maxine Wood paid tribute to her father, BSAVA founder Brian Singleton, after whom the new lecture theatre has been named.

Categories: Journal news

UFAW animal welfare student scholarships

14 February 2019

The Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) is inviting applications for its Animal Welfare Student Scholarships. Applications are invited from undergraduates (or equivalent) registered at either a university or college in the British Isles or an overseas institution at which there is a UFAW University Link person. Applications from MSc students on appropriate courses will also be considered.

Projects are normally carried out during the summer break and may be undertaken in the UK or overseas. The project must be relevant to improving the welfare of farm, laboratory, companion, zoo or free-living wild animals whose welfare is compromised by humans. Successful applicants will receive up to £2400 to cover subsistence and project expenses.

The closing date for applications is 28 February. Further information about the scholarships and application forms can be obtained online at (Grants and Awards page), or by emailing

Categories: Journal news

'Non-stun slaughter must be banned

7 February 2019

By Georgina Mills

All animals should be stunned before slaughter. No exceptions.

That was the message from the BVA and the RSPCA in an open letter to environment secretary Michael Gove, published this week.

The organisations joined forces to call on the UK government to repeal the legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning for religious purposes.

The letter also asked Gove to provide further public transparency on the issue by releasing slaughterhouse survey results from 2018. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) carried out this survey in the autumn of 2018 and the results have yet to be released.

Until a ban comes into force, the BVA and the RSPCA would like the government to implement a number of measures. These are:

  • Require an immediate post-cut stun for cattle, sheep, goats and deer to reduce the suffering of animals at slaughter;

  • Ensure supply meets...

  • Categories: Journal news

    Psychometric testing for vet students could help selection

    7 February 2019

    Prospective vets should be the subject of army-style ‘stress tests’ and psychometric assessments, the president of the British Equine Veterinary Association has suggested.

    Speaking during a panel discussion about recruitment and retention at the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) Congress, Renate Weller said she did not believe that today’s millennial vet students were necessarily any less resilient than older vets.

    However, she added that she would nonetheless support reforming the selection process to try and better select for individuals who are sufficiently resilient to be able to withstand the pressures of the job.

    Do I think we could do better in terms of university selection? Yes

    ‘Do I think we could do better in terms of university selection? Yes,’ Weller told SPVS delegates.

    Asked what new selection criteria she would apply, she responded: ‘I would really go down the army route. I know this is probably very...

    Categories: Journal news

    Space for snakes debate stretches on ...

    7 February 2019

    By Georgina Mills

    Defra has decided there is insufficient evidence that snakes need space to stretch out to their full length.

    It has set out its position in a letter to reptile biologist Clifford Warwick after he wrote to the department questioning its recently published guidelines on the care of snakes.

    The department’s first draft of the guidance, which accompanied the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, contained a condition that ‘all snakes should be allowed sufficient space to stretch out fully’.

    However, by the time the final version was published in October, this statement had been removed.

    Warwick believes that Defra should have consulted fully with the profession before taking the condition out of the guidance, and fears that parties with ‘vested interests’ were involved; for example, pet shops and commercial reptile sellers.

    However in its letter, seen by Vet Record, Defra made it...

    Categories: Journal news

    Identifying dogs at risk of BOAS

    7 February 2019

    By Emma Boxer

    A new health screening scheme to assess the severity of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) in pugs, French bulldogs and bulldogs was launched last week by the University of Cambridge and the Kennel Club.

    The scheme involves listening to a dog’s airway both before and after an exercise tolerance test to assess respiratory function.

    Dogs can be graded from 0 to 3 – grade 0 means there are no signs of BOAS, grade 1 mild signs, grade 2 moderate signs and grade 3 severe. Dogs at grades 2 and 3 are deemed to be clinically affected and will require veterinary intervention.

    It is hoped that the scheme, which was developed with the input of breed clubs, will enable vets to identify dogs at risk of BOAS and allow them to work with owners to provide the best care and treatment for managing the condition.

    The grading,...

    Categories: Journal news

    Brachycephalic airway surgery on the rise for Battersea

    7 February 2019

    2018 saw Battersea Dogs & Cats Home perform more brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) surgery than ever before in its 159-year history.

    It carried out the surgery some 62 times last year. This compares to 2015, when the surgery was only carried out seven times.

    Last year, Battersea took in 40 French bullldogs – a breed that topped the Kennel Club’s registrations in 2018. In 2014, only eight were brought to the home.

    A similar pattern exists for pugs. A total of 47 pugs came into the home last year, compared with 38 in 2017 and 36 in 2014.

    Battersea’s head vet Shaun Opperman said: ‘The dogs Battersea takes in really holds a mirror up to society and reflects what breeds are the most popular in that moment. Sadly, that mirror also shows the ugly side of dog ownership, and – for these dogs – looks literally can kill....

    Categories: Journal news

    To rescue or not to rescue?

    7 February 2019

    If proposed regulations are written into law, it will mean alien wildlife species will no longer be allowed in rescue centres. Georgina Mills explains

    Categories: Journal news

    In brief

    7 February 2019
    Discrimination in the vet profession

    BVA is seeking feedback on incidents of discrimination

    The BVA has launched a questionnaire to gather information on incidents of discrimination in the veterinary professions.

    The association is seeking anonymous feedback from all vet professionals regarding events where they have witnessed discrimination or felt discriminated against.

    The survey includes questions about discriminatory events involving the nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act and other forms of discrimination which might not fit under these characteristics (eg, weight, socioeconomic background).

    It was developed with the support of the British Veterinary Ethnicity and Diversity Society and British Veterinary LGBT+.

    The questionnaire is open until 2 March and can be found at

    Scotland consults on animal welfare

    The Scottish government has opened a consultation to seek views on proposals to strengthen the enforcement of animal welfare legislation.

    It is proposing increasing the penalties...

    Categories: Journal news

    Virtual consultations for all practices

    7 February 2019

    Vet practices could offer existing clients the option of having a virtual consultation using a mobile app created by the software developers at the Virtual Vet Group (VVG).

    Telemedicine could allow them the ability to offer a consultation with a qualified vet at any time of the day and night.

    George Kyriacou, VVG operations director said: ‘Virtual consultations are becoming more and more popular with pet owners who are not really sure if they need to see a vet and would simply like some reassurance. However, in addition to this, the option of having a convenient consultation with your own trusted vet is the holy grail’.

    The VVG platform allows practices to offer the convenience of a virtual consultation as an option alongside their current arrangements.

    Simon Power, commercial manager at Vets One referrals in Crimplesham, Norfolk, said: ‘Since adopting the system we have had a number of virtual...

    Categories: Journal news