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BVA launches Scottish and Welsh manifestos

BVA launches Scottish and Welsh manifestos

Election candidates urged to sign up to 12 key pledges.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has launched its Scottish and Welsh manifestos ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections (6 May).

The manifestos call on election candidates to sign up to 12 key pledges to enhance animal health and welfare, support the veterinary profession, and protect public health. 

Among the pledges include a commitment to boost the veterinary workforce, a promise to enshrine animal sentience in law and a vow to champion the responsible use of antibiotics.

For livestock, the manifestos call for protection for animal welfare at slaughter and direct agriculture funding towards improving animal health and welfare. On companion animals, they include an import ban on dogs with cropped ears and tighter legislation around illegal puppy imports. 

BVA is calling on its members in Scotland and Wales to write to their parliamentary candidates to ask them to commit to these pledges in their manifestos.
 
Ifan Lloyd, president of BVA's Welsh branch said: “Our manifesto sets out the animal welfare and workforce issues that matter most to our members across the Welsh veterinary community, and asks for cross-party commitments to action in these crucial areas. 

“Vets have a key role to play in keeping our pets healthy, protecting animals and the public against disease threats and maintaining high standards in our food chain, and we want to make sure that their views and concerns are heard and acted on by the new parliamentary intake.”

He continued: “We know that there is strong political and public support for many of the animal welfare measures in our manifesto, such as enshrining animal sentience in law and tackling the scourge of puppy smuggling, but we want to see these pledges become a reality after the elections.

"We’re looking forward to engaging with all parties on these vital points, and are encouraging candidates to talk to vets in their local communities to better understand the veterinary workforce and welfare issues in our profession.”

Kathleen Robertson, president of BVA's Scottish branch, commented: “In creating this manifesto we’ve set out the issues that matter most across the Scottish veterinary community. The profession has an integral role to play in keeping our pets healthy, protecting animals and the public against disease threats and maintaining high standards in our food chain, and we know how hard vets have worked to meet demand and prioritise animal health and welfare throughout the pandemic.

“We’d like to see candidates from all parties commit to action on the most pressing animal welfare issues in Scotland, as well as efforts to boost capacity in the workforce so that vets can meet the post-Brexit demand for services like certifying animal products for import and export. Following the elections, we’re looking forward to engaging with the new parliamentary intake to put these pledges into effect.”

The manifestos are available to download at bva.co.uk/media/4066/bva-scottish-manifesto-2021.pdf (Scottish) and bva.co.uk/media/4065/bva-welsh-manifesto-2021.pdf (Welsh).

Survey shows growing awareness of the benefits of vet medicines

Survey shows growing awareness of the benefits of vet medicines

73 per cent of respondents believe that medicines positively impact farm animal welfare.

A new survey conducted across the UK and seven other European countries has found a general good awareness of the benefits of veterinary medicines for the health and welfare of pets and farm animals.

The survey was commissioned by NOAH’s European animal health association AnimalhealthEurope. It showed that 73 per cent of those asked believe that veterinary medicines have a positive impact on the welfare of farm animals.

Most respondents also agreed on the importance of vaccinating farm animals, with 79 per cent of those asked in the UK stating that farm animals should be vaccinated regularly. In addition, 87 per cent of respondents agreed that prevention is better than cure for farm animal disease.

In regards to pets, 81 per cent of respondents agreed that pets should be vaccinated regularly. 83 per cent felt that pets should be checked by a vet at least once a year and 88 per cent recognised the importance of using tick and flea prevention regularly.

The survey did reveal that, in some areas, people were generally unaware of the rules and regulations on the use of veterinary medicines. For example, 61 per cent of respondents were unaware that antibiotics have been banned for growth promotion purposes in farm animals since 2006.

NOAH chief executive Dawn Howard said: “We are delighted to see great support for our UK farmers and vets in this survey, with 83 per cent agreeing farmers care for the health and welfare of their animals.

“Where misunderstandings and concerns do exist, such as around the use of antibiotics to treat farm animals, we will continue to help address these and help explain the strict regulations that govern the authorisation of all animal medicines and the work we all do to support their responsible use.”

MMI extends deadlines for research grants and symposium abstracts

MMI extends deadlines for research grants and symposium abstracts

Applicants now have until 21 May to submit research relating to mental health.

The RCVS Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has announced that deadlines have been extended for both the Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grants and abstracts for the upcoming Mind Matters Mental Health Research Symposium.

In order to give researchers more time to put their proposals together, the deadline for the £20,000 research grants has been extended to Friday 21 May. These grants fund projects that relate to the mental health and wellbeing of the veterinary professions.

Applicants for the 2021 Sarah Brown Mental Health Research Grant must be affiliated with a university and ethical approval must be in place before any award will be paid. Proposals should be no more than 3,000 words and include aims, methods, ethical considerations, proposed timelines, project costings, and a bibliography. Those wishing to apply should send their research proposal to Lisa Quigley, Mind Matters manager, on l.quigley@rcvs.org.uk

The MMI is also calling for abstracts from researchers in the UK and beyond working in mental health and wellbeing in the veterinary professions for the upcoming Mind Matters Mental Health Research Symposium. The event, titled ‘Understanding and supporting veterinary mental health’, takes place online on Wednesday 24 November 2021. Research abstracts are also now due for submission by Friday 21 May.

Symposium abstracts should be submitted to Rosie Allister on rosie.allister@gmail.com. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and include: background; clear and explicit aims and objectives, hypotheses or research questions; methods; results; discussion; and conclusion.

Pet owners urged to have their say in legislative reform consultation

Pet owners urged to have their say in legislative reform consultation

Feedback will impact how RCVS moves forward with proposals.

UK pet owners are being encouraged to get involved in a consultation on the future governance of the veterinary professions.

Feedback from the RCVS Legislation Reform Consultation will be used to inform discussions on how the law could be changed to allow for:

  • better and more efficient regulation of the vet-led team
  • more flexible and compassionate concerns investigation and disciplinary procedures
  • enhanced regulation of veterinary practices. 

RCVS president Dr Mandisa Greene commented: “The views of the animal-owning public are vital for this consultation because the ultimate role of the RCVS as a regulator is to improve the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, as well as public confidence in the veterinary professions, through the standards that we set.

“As we are looking at recommendations for major changes that will, in our view, improve how we set and uphold these standards, animal-owner feedback is a crucial component and will impact how we decide to move forward with this set of proposals.”

Key areas of focus for animal owners in the consultation include:

  • protection in law for veterinary titles including ‘veterinary nurse’, so that only those who are appropriately trained and registered as veterinary nurses may use the title
  • expanding the scope of the RCVS to regulate not just veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, but other allied professionals within the vet-led team, for example, veterinary technicians
  • having mandatory practice regulation because, at present, the College can only regulate individual veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, rather than veterinary practices. This would mean the RCVS has greater scope to ensure standards are being met 
  • widening the grounds for investigating complaints made about veterinary surgeons or veterinary nurses so that the RCVS can intervene in cases where a practitioner might pose a risk to animals, the public or the public interest for reasons other than serious professional misconduct
  • allowing the RCVS to temporarily suspend a veterinary surgeon’s or veterinary nurse’s ability to practise pending the outcome of an investigation or disciplinary hearing where they may pose a significant risk to the public or animals
  • introducing a wider range of sanctions for those who appear before a Disciplinary Committee including conditional or restricted practice orders
  • changing the standard of proof used to determine the facts of a complaint from the criminal standard (‘beyond all reasonable doubt’) to the civil standard (‘on the balance of probabilities’) in line with other healthcare regulators.
     

Dr Greene added: “Please also remember, you do not need to complete the entire consultation but can choose to comment on those recommendations which are most important and relevant to you.”

The consultation will remain open until Friday, 23 April 2021 and is available at rcvs.org/consultation

 

Veterinary mobile phones contaminated with bacteria, study finds

Veterinary mobile phones contaminated with bacteria, study finds

Survey reveals only six per cent of hospital staff clean their devices daily.

Almost 70 per cent of tablets and mobile phones used in veterinary hospitals are contaminated with Staphylococcus bacteria, according to new research.

The study published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice found that 68 per cent of portable electronic devices (PEDs) used by veterinary team members are contaminated with Staphylococci, including strains resistant to vancomycin and oxacillin.

In the study, researchers took swab samples from the screen and buttons of PEDs (such as mobile phones and tablets) of staff working with canine and feline patients. They also asked the participants to complete a questionnaire to discover how often their PEDs are used and to ascertain the frequency and method of PED cleaning.

Study author Georgia Vinall said: “Useable swab samples were taken from 47 devices; Staphylococcus spp. were cultured from 68 per cent of PEDs with a median of 10 colonies grown per device.

“Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus spp. were found on 36 per cent of devices, whilst oxacillin-resistant Staphylococcus spp. were cultured from two per cent of devices. DNA sequencing identified three Staphylococcus species; S. capitis, S. epidermidis and S. hominis which are most likely associated with humans as either sources or transmission vectors.”

Ms Vinall continued: “The results of the survey indicate that 96 per staff of staff had a PED which they used in the hospital environment, of which 85 per cent use their device every day. Despite the high usage of PEDs in the hospital environment, only six per cent of staff cleaned their device daily, with 33 per cent of staff cleaning their PED less than weekly. Furthermore, only 54 per cent of staff cleaned their device with a disinfectant.”

JSAP editor Nicola Di Girolamo said: “This study demonstrates that PEDs may become contaminated with potentially pathogenic microorganisms. Although this specific study did not focus on transmission of these microorganisms, and therefore it is unclear what are the clinical implications of this finding, it seems prudent to develop appropriate protocols for cleaning of PEDs in veterinary hospitals.” 

RCVS sells London headquarters to private investor for &pound14m

RCVS sells London headquarters to private investor for £14m

College will be able to lease back the building for up to two years.

The RCVS has announced the sale of its London headquarters, Belgravia House, to a private investor for £14m.

Under the deal, the College will be able to lease back the building for up to two years, to allow time for Council to consider the future requirements of the organisation, and how these may have changed in light of COVID-19. 

RCVS treasurer Susan Dawson said: “Council recognised that this deal realised maximum value for the building, especially considering the impact the pandemic has had on property prices in Central London.

“It also provides a very valuable opportunity to reflect on the changing needs of the organisation and the professions and public it serves, and to consider the requirements and different working patterns of the College staff going forwards.”

Belgravia House was put up for sale in November 2018 after RCVS Council members agreed the offices were no longer ‘fit for purpose’, needed more up-to-date and modern facilities, and more room for a growing workforce. The project was overseen by the College’s Estates Strategy Project Board, chaired by former RCVS President Barry Johnson. 

In a press release, the College said the sale ‘marks an exciting new chapter in the College’s long history’ as it considers how its future has been shaped by the events of the coronavirus pandemic.

It added that it hopes to welcome back a limited number of team members to the office in June ‘in a safe and socially-distanced way’, with changes to working patterns informing decisions surrounding remote working policies. 

Ms Dawson continued: “It is likely that many staff members will wish to continue to work at home more than they did pre-Covid, so the need for pure desk-space may not be as great as we had planned for the 10-15 years ahead. However, the importance of in-person meetings for collaboration, creativity and the maintenance of good corporate culture is not to be underestimated, so our new requirements are likely to be different to that anticipated back in 2018.” 

VMG welcomes six new board members

VMG welcomes six new board members

Directors will help raise standards of veterinary leadership.

The Veterinary Management Group (VMG) – the representative body for those working in business, management and leadership roles in the veterinary sector – has announced the appointment of six new directors to its board.

The new board members are:

  • Natasha Demir – a regional veterinary manager for IVC Evidensia
  • David Johnson – assistant professor in Entrepreneurship at Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Nigel Lea – national partnerships manager at Citation, a business that offers support for HR and health and safety
  • Rebecca Thorne – head of Clinical Operations at Medivet. She also earned an MBA in 2020 with a dissertation focused on leadership in the veterinary profession
  • Becky Thwaites – head of public affairs for Blue Cross
  • Chris White – strategic project manager for Pets at Home Veterinary Group. He also recently completed an Advanced Level CIPD Diploma in Human Resources Management.

VMG president Richard Casey said: “We were delighted to receive such a positive response to our call for new directors. The individuals joining our board bring specific skills and experience which will enable us to accelerate work to support our members in delivering ‘21st century leadership’ across the veterinary sector.

“As we all start making plans to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and into the ‘new normal’, strong leadership has never been more vital for our sector and we will be with our members every step of the way.

“We welcome the new members of the VMG board and look forward to their contributions in the months ahead.”

Image (c) VMG.

RCVS issues COVID-19 recovery guidance

RCVS issues COVID-19 recovery guidance

New guidance to replace current emergency guidance.

The RCVS has published new COVID-19 recovery guidance for the UK veterinary profession, aligning with the UK governments' intention to ease the country out of lockdown between now and mid-April, depending on a number of factors.

The new guidance, which will gradually replace the RCVS' current emergency guidance, aims to help veterinary practices begin a phased return to near-normal operations, subject to a number of provisions.

Provided the government's plans remain in place, practices across the UK will be able to use their own professional judgement to decide which services to provide, whilst still maintaining biosecurity and social distancing measures.

Practices will no longer be expected to provide only essential services and the College's COVID-19 flowcharts will be removed.

The College is, however, keeping the right to remote prescribe in place, but only where there is no suitable alternative and still subject to certain guidelines and requirements.

RCVS president Mandisa Greene said: “Whilst I sincerely hope that we are at last beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, if there is one thing we have learnt, it is that things can deteriorate rapidly if we don’t all continue to play our part and follow all relevant guidelines.

“I therefore urge my colleagues to continue to use their professional judgement and think very carefully about their gradual return to more normal working patterns over the coming weeks and months, according to their individual circumstances and the best interests of their teams, clients, and the animals they care for.”

The RCVS COVID-19 Taskforce has also announced that changes made in response to the pandemic will now be reviewed and decisions made as to whether to retain, amend or reverse them.

The BVA has also published guidance for practices on working safely as lockdown restrictions are eased, available on the Association's website.

Veterinary collegiality infographic launched by WSAVA and FECAVA

Veterinary collegiality infographic launched by WSAVA and FECAVA

Practices encouraged to display poster to show support for colleagues.

The Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA) and World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) have published an infographic for veterinary practices based on their ‘Global Principles of Veterinary Collegiality’, launched earlier this year.

The infographic was introduced as part of WSAVA/FECAVA 2021 Virtual Congress by FECAVA past president Dr Wolfgang Dohne, who gave an update on the associations' joint collegiality initiative.

He said: “Against a backdrop of high rates of depression, stress and burnout, it is crucial that associations such as FECAVA and WSAVA take a stand to improve collegiality, respect and communication within the veterinary profession.

“We have been delighted at the response to our Global Principles of Veterinary Collegiality and hope that our new infographic offers a simple and accessible visualization of the common set of behaviours we expect from all of our colleagues.

“We call on every employer, every team and every individual team member to ask themselves regularly whether they are living up to the pledges we have set out.”

The new infographic and the principles document it references are available to download for free from the WSAVA and FECAVA websites. Both have been translated into multiple languages and the infographic can be customized.

WSAVA past president Shane Ryan added: “We encourage display [of the infographic] in practices or on associations’ media platforms to show support for inclusivity, non-discrimination and respect for all veterinary colleagues worldwide.”

Image (c) WSAVA/FECAVA.

Importance of pychological safety at work discussed

Importance of pychological safety at work discussed

Alan Robinson and Ernie Ward discuss creating a vet and nurse friendly practice

The final afternoon at the virtual BSAVA Congress 2021 focused on recruitment and retention. It is no secret that the veterinary industry can struggle to recruit and retain talent, yet considering the psychological drivers for motivation and engagement at work does not always receive the consideration it deserves.

Alan Robinson, managing director of Vet Dynamics, and Ernie Ward, Chief Strategy Officer at Affordable Pet Labs, discussed the importance of safety and security at work and said that retention was “not just about perks”.

Alan explained how team members do not engage with their work unless they feel safe, connected and valued. “People need to be in a positive psychological and physiological state of flow” said Alan. “They need to be in a supportive and safe relationship with practice leaders and managers.”

Alan stated how, in order to be attractive as a place of work, employers need to create an environment where “people can look after themselves” and where “confidence and competence is encouraged”. He explained how we need to understand the veterinary mindset and to acknowledge how a practice environment can threaten resilience and psychological safety.

“Vets and nurses are ethically and morally driven individuals. We think of ourselves as highly resilient – until we’re not.”

Alan’s top tips for building a psychologically-safe workplace included:
  • allowing self-expression where team members can acknowledge their ‘best selves’ as well as their own fallibility
  • tolerating experimentation by modelling curiosity and encouraging failure with learning
  • encouraging purpose by making it matter and sharing personal stories.

Ernie Ward started his talk by explaining the "four Rs" in that all team members deserve “roles, responsibilities, recognition and rewards” – build it and they will come – and reflected on the importance of regular feedback. “Catch someone doing something good each day!”

Ernie stressed the importance of offering praise publicly, but saving constructive feedback for private environments – a behaviour that leaders need to consciously and consistently self-evaluate.

It was emphasised that the activity of showing appreciation to your team did not have to involve spending a lot of money. “A handwritten card is the most valuable way I have ever found to thank people in person” said Ernie, and noted his positive experience of finding out that a former employee had kept a card that he had written to her many years ago.

Alan recommended researching the concept of management by appreciation and learning the five different versions of appreciation. “Find out how people like to be appreciated and apply that individually.”

Experts share tips for managing uncertainty

Experts share tips for managing uncertainty

Carolyne Crowe and Alan Robinson provide practical techniques for coping with change at BSAVA Congress.

The past year has seen unprecedented levels of change both in our personal and professional lives. During the third and final morning of BSAVA Congress (27 March), Carolyne Crowe and Alan Robinson shared tips for managing change during uncertain times.

Carolyne, who is head of training at the Veterinary Defence Society, began by discussing how the events of the past year have led to a lot of ifs, buts and possibilities (or lack of them!). While change is nothing new to the veterinary profession, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted our personal lives - how we live, our finances and our health - and all this change can affect how we feel at work.

“Peaks of big uncertainty can be one of the big drainers for our resilience, and affect resilience not only for ourselves but also for our teams, our practices as well as the wider profession,” she said. “[Uncertainty] is tiring, uncertainty is challenging but the world isn’t a certain place – and it certainly isn’t at the moment.”

Carolyne shared some practical tools leaders can use and take back to their team to help them feel less drained and more in control. Her biggest tip was to write a list of any concerns that might be floating around in your head – the things that are worrying you, the things that are keeping you up at night – and identifying what you can and cannot control.

For everything on that list you cannot control, try to accept that fact, Carolyne stressed. “Control the controllable. Focus on the things that can help you move forward to take action and to decide every day: ‘what am I going to respond to, how am I going to respond to that?’”

Ms Crowe spoke about how leaders in practice can use this technique to help their teams manage their personal and professional concerns. She stressed that one of the best things you can do for your team is to become a role model. 

“On a noticeboard or in a meeting, encourage your team to share their concerns and worries and ask them what they will focus on today, she said. This simple action can prevent one person’s worrying from spreading throughout the whole team.

“Think about how you are behaving. Think about the language you are using, and think about how you are communicating with your teams, too, in the face of that uncertainty.”

Train your brain

Alan Robinson, a practice development coach at Vet Dynamics, led the second half of the session. Alan shared some tips and tricks to help ‘train your brain’, and build up its resilience to uncertainty. Mr Robinson's overarching advice was to be generally aware of both your responses and in others - particularly if you are in a leadership position. His other top tips were:

    • control what you can - create predictability and order where and when you can
    • set a daily schedule - daily routines are your secret weapon against anxiety
    • fall back on systems and processes – a daily schedule provides you with a system to follow
    • move the goalposts closer – set yourself small, doable tasks
    • reward yourself regularly - find the joy in the small things 
    • move your body – when you exercise, you’re taking action
    • maintain connections – take action by supporting someone else.
   
When asked how to help people who are struggling to cope, Alan said: “Firstly, get to understand their world - sit in their empathetic, compassionate state. That takes a lot of deep listening and deep connection.

“The second thing is to drive people towards gratitude. What is it that we can be grateful for at this moment? Gratitude is a huge shifter of motivation.”

Dr Ranj on lessons learned during the pandemic

Dr Ranj on lessons learned during the pandemic

TV doctor highlights personal impact of COVID on caring professions.

Medical doctor and TV presenter Dr Ranj Singh kicked off the final day of BSAVA Congress 2021 with an uplifting keynote speech on the lessons that he has learned from the pandemic and how these may be applicable to the veterinary profession.

Dr Singh began by discussing how the events of the last year have driven innovation in the NHS. The profession had to rapidly change its priorities and the way it worked in order to keep staff and patients as safe as possible.

“It was amazing [to see] what can be achieved when the pressure is on and that pressure, I think, drove a lot of innovation within healthcare and within the NHS and I'm sure it has within your practices as well.”

Dr Singh also spoke about the personal impact that the pandemic has had on all of us. Many of us have had to adapt the way we work, as well as juggle families, careers and our personal wellbeing. The mental health fallout from this difficult time is something that Dr Singh feels we as a country will be dealing with for a long time to come.

Although the pandemic presented many challenges and had a huge personal impact on all of us, Dr Singh believes that it has also imparted many important lessons.

The significance of taking care of our mental wellbeing has been discussed more than ever across the past year and many of us are realising the importance of social interaction, as well as physical exercise and time outdoors.

The adoption of new technologies has also improved accessibility for everyone, whether that be with home learning or access to services. Finally, NHS and veterinary workers have had to learn to work flexibly and embrace new ways of working even in the face of uncertainty. Dr Singh called this working method: “JFDI - Just flipping do it!”

Dr Singh concluded his keynote by urging delegates to consider how we can learn from the pandemic moving forward: “As much as the last year or so has been a difficult experience in so many ways...there have been huge lessons that have been learned and there are definitely some positives which we can take forward. Especially when it comes to looking after ourselves and our patients.”

Image (c) BSAVA.

Derek Mills inspires delegates in keynote lecture

Derek Mills inspires delegates in keynote lecture

“Be all you can be today” - Derek Mills.

Business guru Derek Mills delivered an inspirational keynote during the second day of BSAVA Congress 2021, sharing his story with delegates and providing thoughtful insight into how setting 'daily standards' can impact our lives.

Derek Mills is a financial advisor and wealth manager who has spoken for and worked with a number of FTSE 100 companies, entrepreneurs and global organisations. However, during his keynote, he explained that success has not always come easily to him.

Mr Mills spent the majority of his earlier life working long hours with little success, missing out on precious time with his family and feeling generally unhappy. Then, at 38-years-old, during another late night at the office, Mr Mills had what he calls a 'ten-second moment' where the reality of his situation hit him.

“It was that moment that I had a shift that made me realise – this was not my life. The issues and challenges I face were not me and could not be me. I was not meant to be in this place.”

Mr Mills realised he needed to take a new approach and started to live his life by 'daily standards' rather than general goals. He defines a daily standard standard as a basis, criterion, level, quality or rule that you set from within and commit to living by from that day, for just one day at a time.

He spoke about how this system of living could help the veterinary profession – a sector where people tend to hold themselves to very high standards, leading to stress, burnout and a poor work-life balance.

By setting and reviewing daily standards that have been established by the individual, Mr Mills believes that we begin to live more authentic, happy lives and in turn we attract the right people, opportunities and experiences that lead us to success. He added: “When we stick to our truths, more of our gifts, talents and abilities present themselves.”

The full keynote speech from Derek Mills will be available to view on-demand on the Congress platform in the coming days.

Image (c) BSAVA.

Managing our travel emissions

Managing our travel emissions

BSAVA Congress session explores ways to reduce our carbon footprint when travelling to and from work

Dr Matthew Sawyer from Vet Sustain led Friday’s third sustainability session at BSAVA Congress (25-27 March) with a whistle-stop presentation on how to cut carbon emissions when travelling to and from the workplace.

Travel is an essential part of everyday life, but the average commute soon adds up. A 2017 report found that the average employee spends around 10,000 hours across their career commuting at a financial cost of between fifty and one-hundred-and fifty thousand pounds. 

Dr Sawyer explained that these long commutes can have many negative impacts on the work-life balance, such as less time with friends and family, poor work performance and, consequently, poor mental and physical health. 

During his presentation, Matthew shared some interesting facts about how much we travel, the damage and impact caused by commuting to work, things we can do as individuals and business owners to reduce our environmental impact and the benefits of doing things better. 

Among some of his key suggestions were:
  • investing in personalised travel plans to help staff find more sustainable ways to travel
  • positively promoting and encouraging walking and cycling to work
  • the idea of ‘20-minute towns’ – a concept whereby staff and customers can reach you within a 20-minute walk, rather than using a car
  • using your influence to discuss with local transport providers ways to ensure they improve their services to your business. 


He also shared Vet Sustain’s ‘low carbon travel hierarchy’, which lists the most sustainable travel options at the top and the most damaging at the bottom. Some of the travel options detailed involve no travel at all, such as working from home and holding online meetings.

Concluding the session, Dr Sawyer said that taking such action has many benefits not only for practice owners staff but also the local neighbourhood and society as a whole. 
He called for a collaborative approach to achieve a common goal of clean air to breathe and an active and healthy population, adding “we cannot allow the travel our businesses generate to contribute to poor human and planetary health."

Jenny Campbell delivers keynote speech

Jenny Campbell delivers keynote speech

Women in the veterinary industry encouraged to have confidence and to "go and get what you want"

Jenny Campbell, businesswoman and star of BBC’s Dragons' Den, delivered a keynote speech on day two of the virtual BSAVA Congress 2021. Interviewed by RCVS president Mandisa Greene, topics covered included her route to owning her own business, juggling motherhood with work, and the discrimination she faced as a woman in her early career.

Jenny described how in an early banking role, she received an unprompted letter on her desk stating that her employer had assessed her career prospects as a grade ‘B’, and that her male colleague in the same role had been graded ‘A’.

Jenny explained: “I pursued it [the disparity] the right way through my manager and H.R. and, after about 18 months, I received a muted response saying that they assumed I would go off and have a family, and I thought, ‘And?' – this is about my future progression and capabilities”.

Jenny continued: “The reason it made a very practical difference is that if they gave you a grade ‘A’, the bank guaranteed you your job back at the same grade after having a child, whereas a grade ‘B’ meant that they would make ‘best endeavours’ which is not the same. They were judging me on having a family and thinking I would be less committed in my career. I fought it for 18 months, but eventually I was given my ‘A’.”

Continuing on the topic of working parents, Jenny explained that she felt she was a “better mum overall” for going to work and that reviewing and prioritising to-do lists was critical for work-life balance. “Ask yourself: what do I really need to do today?” said Jenny.

When asked what message she had for women in veterinary profession, Jenny stated: “As women, we often don’t have enough confidence in ourselves as to what is possible. I always say, there’s no such thing as glass ceilings – there’s only sticky floors. Move your own feet and go and get what you want.

“The veterinary industry is dominated by women. Those women need to become practice partners … and yes, you can juggle children and working. It’s just a case of scheduling, juggling priorities and spinning plates.”

 

Practices urged to go green at BSAVA Congress

Practices urged to go green at BSAVA Congress

Session explores the benefits of sustainability in the vet profession.

In a morning dedicated to climate action, delegates at BSAVA Congress 2021 were invited to view a presentation on environmentally friendly practices, highlighting the benefits of operating sustainably and the positive impact that it can have.

Becky Sedman, from Minster Veterinary Practice in York, kicked off the session with a discussion on the business case for sustainability. She explained why veterinary practices should be taking steps to reduce their environmental impact.

“We all understand that we're facing a climate crisis,” said Ms Sedman, “and we do need to take action now if we are to have any hope of preventing catastrophic global warming in the future.”

“As a veterinary profession we understand the intimate relationships between people, animals and the environment better than most...So we're in a fantastic position to champion sustainability.”

Ms Sedman also highlighted the financial incentives to becoming a greener practice, explaining that people and potential employees will typically prefer businesses with green credentials. Carrying out sustainability initiatives can also help to galvanise the existing practice team.

Zoe Halfacree, chair of the Greener Veterinary Practice working group, Vet Sustain, took over for the second half to provide an insight into the work that the group is doing to support practices to make changes for environmental sustainability.

She explained the 'huge' impact that clinical practice has on the environment and shared Vet Sustain's Greener Veterinary Practice Checklist, endorsed by BVA, BVNA and SPVS.

This checklist highlights areas in which practices can make a start in going green, including:

  • practising responsible resource use – using reusable surgical gowns, using alcohol hand preparation etc.
  • being sustainable in your operation – carrying out a waste audit and highlighting where your biggest environmental impact is
  • using medicines responsibly – avoiding drug wastage and disposing of drugs correctly
  • empowering the team – carrying out sustainability education projects that support staff wellbeing and development.

For more guidance on making a start on your sustainability journey, please visit vetsustain.org