Climbing down from our ‘Belgrivory Tower’

A common complaint levelled at the RCVS is that we all sit here in London, high up in our ‘Belgrivory Tower’, and never venture anywhere near normal veterinary practice to get our hands dirty and see what ‘real vetting’ is all about.

Whether or not this has been true in the past, I’ve been keen from day one in the CEO hot seat to get out and about, and have been making concerted efforts, when time permits, to visit veterinary practices, vet schools, VN Colleges and other veterinary work places up and down the country to listen to the views and concerns of the people who work there.

Last week, for instance, I spent a fascinating day visiting three practices in Harrogate and my thanks to Leigh-Anne Brown, Maurice Kelly and Bob Partridge MsRCVS for sparing me their valuable time. I also spent a few hours in Consett with my boss, President Jacqui Molyneux, watching her perform keyhole surgery. I was really pleased to witness an actual operation on an actual animal, as it’s surprising how few animals I get to see on my practice visits! Jacqui’s operating skills were very impressive; I say that genuinely and not just because I now know she’s a dab hand with a knife. (And I didn’t faint, in case you were wondering…)

Jacqui Molyneux

Watching a Presidential operation

In other news…

Our First Rate Regulator initiative continues apace, and I would like to record here my thanks again to the 5,000 or so veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and practice managers who took the trouble to respond  our survey, as well as all the members of the public, RCVS Council and staff, plus additional stakeholders who also shared their views with us.

Our external consultants have since analysed this mountain of feedback and presented us with a series of formal recommendations to consider. At a meeting last Monday, RCVS Officers lent their support to these recommendations, which will now be presented to RCVS Council in June.  I hope that a workshop approach will allow all Council members to really get their teeth into the issues.

We held our first ever RCVS virtual Question Time last Wednesday evening and, technical challenges notwithstanding, it was well received. We asked the 80 people listening in to tell us whether they thought it was worthwhile and we had an extraordinary 100 per cent approval rating! Don’t worry if you missed it, the discussions were recorded, and should be available via The Webinar Vet soon.

On Friday, I headed over to WhiteCity with our new Head of Registration and Customer Experience Manager, Nicola South, to talk to what’s left of the BBC on that site about how they handle complaints, and how they interact with the public as licence fee payers and audiences to their programmes. Although on the surface a very different organisation to the RCVS, I often find observing how others do things can provide a very useful opportunity to learn.

Coming up this week, we have a Senior Team away day on Monday, where we will be starting the process of putting together a strategic plan for the next three years. I’ll be asking all staff for their input in June, and our new Operational Board in July, before then presenting draft proposals for Council to consider in September.

We also have a joint Officers meeting with the BVA, an Audit and Risk Committee meeting and our Legislation Working Party will be considering our Charter activities. Jacqui and Registrar Gordon Hockey will be heading to Cambridge to talk to their vet students about the role of the RCVS, plus giving them the opportunity to play Disciplinary Committee member through a fictitious case, and I shall need to don my best whistle-and-flute, for a NOAH black-tie event to round off the week.

That’s it for this week, and the first of what I hope will become a regular blog to help shed a little more light on my day-to-day activities both in, and, whenever I get chance, away from, the office.