Staring down at a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with acute chocolate poisoning at 11.30pm in Edinburgh the other night, I felt like I was really experiencing the sharp end of veterinary practice.
I’d been invited to witness the delights and challenges of out-of-hours emergency veterinary work by RCVS Council Member Amanda Boag, and spent the evening criss-crossing the south of Scotland visiting practices in Glasgow and Edinburgh to see what sort of cases came in. Fortunately, Mischa was treated quickly, and was ultimately none the worse for her misadventure, despite having consumed ten times the toxic level of chocolate! The commitment of the hardworking vets and vet nurses who I met really was quite extraordinary.
Whilst north of the border, I also took the opportunity to visit the Dick Vet (for the uninitiated, as I was, this is Edinburgh University’s vet school, founded by William Dick in 1823) and now have an even better insight into the amazing facilities available to undergraduates there, and the education they receive.
The necessary financing for such facilities is possible due in no small part to the sterling efforts of the School’s first head of finance, Mary Dick (William’s elder sister), which continues to translate into significant funds: £100m over the last five years and £150m over the next ten, to be precise. You’d think she might look slightly happier about her accomplishments…
I had an excellent meeting with Head of School, David Argyle, too. Amongst other things, we discussed the one health initiative (the vets and medics in Edinburgh work very closely together), the need for veterinary leadership both nationally and globally and his inspirational views on what he calls the ‘need for a renaissance within the vet profession’. My thanks to David for his valuable time.
Staying north, I was then joined by my fellow Officers and colleagues for our Regional Question Time meeting in Durham. This turned out to be a successful evening with over 40 delegates coming armed with plenty of lively questions to keep us alert for nearly three hours! We discussed everything from out-of-hours cover (I’m now an expert, you understand) to the first-rate regulator initiative, from day-one competencies of new graduates to the struggles of being a small practice in tough economic times.
Like I said in Durham, meetings like this are a great way to meet members of the veterinary team, hear their views and try to answer their questions. It’s not always possible to get out and about, though, so please feel free to contact me at any time either via this blog or by email (email@example.com). Whilst I might not always agree, I will always listen!
Of course, while I was out on the road, work continued apace back at the ranch with the team busy writing to all the MPs picked in the Private Members Ballot to encourage them to support our call for new legislation to protect the title ‘veterinary nurse’, and to introduce an effective VN regulatory system.
Like I said at the time, there is widespread support amongst the public and profession for such legislation, and the nation’s animals and owners deserve better than the current situation. We have had a Bill drafted by leading Counsel and are prepared to offer significant support to any MP willing to pick up this worthy cause.
The last leg of my recent travels has actually involved a few rare days’ holiday – the first I have taken since taking up the CEO post back in September and a very welcome break! With a very important Council meeting coming up this week, together with some intensive workshops on shaping the future of the College and the Practice Standards Scheme, its good to return to office feeling refreshed and ready to face the next challenge!