I’ll shortly be battling my way through London’s unforgiving rush hour towards the calm Edwardian surroundings of One Great George Street in Westminster, a fittingly grand venue for us to host our AGM and welcome around 240 guests to our annual awards ceremony.
This will be only my second ‘RCVS Day’, but if it’s as enjoyable as last year, then, together with the invited veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, their guests, Council members and my colleagues, I have much to look forward to over the next few hours.
I’m conscious that only a fraction of the profession are ever able to attend this important celebratory event, not least as it’s always on a ‘school day’, but I’m pleased to report that we will be producing a short video of the proceedings, as well as plenty of photos and the usual reports and minutes, so there should be ample opportunity to catch up.
I’ll also be making a short speech, which I thought I’d give you a sneak preview of here on my blog (see below). I’ve tried to encapsulate the significant progress we have made, and continue to make, at the College, without going into reams of detail. In my view, the shorter the speech, the better it’s received, so I hope this hits the right note a little later today!
Some of the business of the day will include the presentation of our annual report and financial statements for adoption by members, and a vote on a motion to submit a new Royal Charter to the Privy Council for approval, which would be the first in almost 50 years.
Perhaps most importantly though, RCVS Day provides us with the perfect opportunity to celebrate the very best of the UK veterinary profession – veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses alike – and give due recognition for the many veterinary accomplishments and achievements that so often go unsung.
Rush hour aside, it’s going to be a good day.
It is a great pleasure to be here once again among the good and the great from the veterinary world.
This is a day for speeches, but this one won’t be long. I just want to update you on what we have achieved and what more there is to do.
Last year I talked about the First Rate Regulator initiative, a massive engagement programme with the profession, public and stakeholders. It led to the strategic plan, a programme of work to improve what we do and how we do it.
Just six months in to the plan I’m delighted to say we have achieved a great deal:
- A new Charter heading fast towards the Privy Council;
- Ambitious plans to reduce the time it takes to process complaints;
- Mid way through an overhaul of our IT infrastructure;
- In November we will trial of a new consumer complaints service;
- A new status of ‘Advanced Practitioner’ – with applications opening in September;
- Next year we will have a new Practice Standards Scheme and the transition to an independent disciplinary function will be complete;
- And the charity partner of the RCVS, RCVS Knowledge is going great guns – a clear purpose and mandate for EBVM and a fabulous new Chair in Jacqui Molyneux.
A lot to be proud of and real momentum for change and improvement.
In addition we have listened and responded to fair criticism from the profession including a very productive evidence gathering session on 24/7 emergency care, which has resulted in important changes.
I believe listening and responding is a sign of strength and confidence. We do not seek to be popular but to be sensible in how we regulate and respectful in how we carry out our Royal College duties.
I continue to visit practices and other places where vets and VNs work every week and will be delighted to accept invitations from any of you to see the work that you and your teams are doing.
One of the areas that I am most excited about is how we are unleashing the talents of our team at the RCVS. In the last year we have been able to promote from within, we have a greater focus on training and development and our levels of staff engagement are increasing significantly.
It is not self serving to say these things, but critical to the service we provide and the success we can have as a Royal College that regulates.
I see our role as a force for good, contributing to the profession being world leading, supporting some of the best veterinary practitioners in the world, doing everything we can to ensure the public feels properly protected when things go wrong.
We are honest about our strengths and weaknesses and determined to be the best we can be. Thank you for your support in helping us on this journey.