Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

February saw the status of veterinary nurses in the UK enhanced by a Royal Charter conferring professional recognition and requiring accountable regulation. From now on Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) will be subject to rules similar to those governing their veterinary surgeon colleagues. The RVN’s will be overseen by the vet’s regulatory body the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). RVN’s will be permitted to carry out minor operations but will be required to abide by a code of professional conduct, declare any convictions, cautions or adverse findings and complete 45 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) over a rolling three year period – i.e. an average of 15 hours per annum. The annual registration fee for RVN’s is currently set at £61 (A$120), registration for veterinary surgeons is £299 ($587) p.a. and their compulsory CPD requirement is 105 hours over three years.

Another piece of news with more personal royal associations is the apparent decline in the popularity of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi in the UK – a breed long favoured by The Queen. The Kennel Club (KC) has reported that the breed’s popularity has been in decline since a peak of over 9,000 registrations in 1960. Continue reading Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon’s RCVS Survey of the Veterinary Professions 2014 was published online in September. According to the RCVS it provides a ‘snapshot of the current state of the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions.’ The four-yearly survey was carried out by the independent Institute for Employment Studies and collated responses from 6,988 RCVS registered veterinary surgeons (27 per cent of the profession) and 3,612 registered/listed veterinary nurses (31 per cent of the profession) across a wide range of work related issues.

Naturally different conclusions about the status of the professions can be drawn depending on the reader’s standpoint, but the results do clarify the actuality underlying some widely held perceptions. For instance the continued ‘feminisation’ of the veterinary profession as for the first time Continue reading Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

Pigeon Post: Ian Neville reports from the UK

The British veterinary profession’s relationship with its regulatory body, The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), was for many years one of mute acceptance; presumably because any institution prefixed ‘Royal’ was dutifully honoured and most definatly obeyed. In recent years as the rate of change and complexity in the veterinary world has accelerated, the profession has begun to react more vociferously to college decisions and to doubt the wisdom of some of the college’s pronouncements. This year several open rebellions have surfaced. Issues that have recently brought sections of the profession into conflict with the college include: the formation of an employed vets union, out of hours service provision, homeopathy and disciplinary powers.

The contentious decision to strike Munhuwepasi Chikosi off the UK veterinary register (detailed in Pigeon Post, The Veterinarian March 2014) is still smouldering away. Though Mr Chikosi is no longer working in the UK a campaign has begun to get him reinstated in defiance of the college judgement. The campaign is being spearheaded by forensic veterinary scientist and expert witness David Bailey who aims to raise £25,000 (A$45,643) to bring Mr Chikosi back to the UK and fight the college decision in the courts. Continue reading Pigeon Post: Ian Neville reports from the UK

Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

The trend toward corporate veterinary practice ownership has been accelerating noticeably in recent years. Ten years ago it was estimated that around only 3 per cent of UK practices were owned by corporate companies, by last year that had risen to 10 per cent. In April this year a takeover merged two of the largest veterinary joint venture partnership (JVP) groups under a single management team.

Pets At Home is a nationwide retail chain of 345 stores selling pet foods and products, accessories, insurance and small pets employing 6,250 staff. Eighty six of the stores have grooming parlours and 116 house branches of Companion Care veterinary surgeries employing a further 1,200 people. The subject of the takeover, Vets 4 Pets, is another substantial JVP company with 93 practices spread across the UK. Both groups were formed in 2001, but their merger creates a single and formidable buying, discounting, advertising, training and management capability that independent, established practitioners and new start-up hopefuls will probably find very difficult to compete with. It also significantly reduces competition between veterinary JVP groups, with possible adverse impacts on job opportunities and conditions. Combined sales for both groups in the year to March 2013 amounted to £100 million (A$ 158 million). Pets At Home plan to retain both veterinary group ‘brand’ identities but continue to expand their operations and open more new franchised clinics.  Continue reading Pigeon Post: Ian Neville writes from the UK

Pigeon Post from the UK

Do you remember the British drought … that never was (Pigeon Post, April 2012)? We’ve just ‘enjoyed’ the wettest June on record throughout most of the country and July seems to be following suit so far. The reservoirs are full, all water restrictions lifted and the newspapers ‘splashed’ with images of watercourses in spate and unfortunates mopping out their front rooms and businesses.  It’s highly unlikely that Andy Murray would have managed to lose his Wimbledon men’s singles final on schedule, but for the roof on Centre Court.

The consensus seems to be that climate change is bringing Britain warmer, but wetter summers than ever before.  Is our capricious weather finally going to become more predictable … i.e. wet all the time?! Continue reading Pigeon Post from the UK