ViVet launches new Innovation Workshop Series

A new series of Innovation Workshops is being launched by ViVet to help provide veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses with the tools needed to turn ideas into innovations.

To be held in Cambridge in January and February next year, the innovation and creativity training programme will cover a broad spectrum of innovation methodologies across two one-day courses. Delegates can choose to attend one or both courses depending upon their experience and stage in the innovation process.

The courses will be led across two days by veterinary surgeons Guen Bradbury and Greg Dickens (pictured), both experts in supporting innovation.

The first course, on 16 January 2019, will introduce tools and techniques to help individuals and organisations think creatively and guide participants through the innovation process from identifying need, selecting an idea and developing it into a concrete concept.

The second course, on 20 February 2019, will cover how to test ideas and refine solutions, how to develop  business models, and how to win support and funding to maximise the chances of the innovation’s success.

Anthony Roberts, Director of Leadership and Innovation at the RCVS says: “Our ideation workshop is not just for entrepreneurs or innovators, it’s to give vets and vet nurses the tools and techniques to create new ideas or nurture existing ones. These could be ideas for starting a new business, a new product, new content, or even just inventive ways of talking about or marketing an existing product or service.”

Each full-day course costs £100, including course materials, certificate of completion, lunch, and all refreshments. Booking the full workshop, ie both courses, will attract a 10% discount.

To read further information about the course – including the programme, venue, timings and directions – and to register, please visit the event’s dedicated Eventbrite page.

ViVet: inspired by #VetFutures

ViVet celebrates its first anniversary

ViVet is celebrating its first anniversary with the publication of a new regular feature highlighting innovators and influencers in the veterinary and animal health sector.

We launched ViVet at our Innovation Symposium at the Warwick Business School in The Shard in September 2017, featuring a wide range of speakers drawn from the world of technology and innovation in areas such as healthcare, scientific research, business and finance and, of course, veterinary science.

The ViVet programme itself grew out of the recommendations of the Vet Futures research project and is designed to ensure veterinary professionals are engaged with innovation and technological development in the animal health sector.

Since it launched last year, this website has been publishing blogs and case studies and the team, led by RCVS Council member Chris Tufnell and Director of Leadership and Innovation Anthony Roberts, has been talking to audiences both within and without the veterinary professions about the project and veterinary innovation in general.

Events spoken at have included the British Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe Conference in Brussels and the Veterinary Public Health Association/ Association of Government Vets ‘Embracing Innovation’ Conference.

To celebrate the year since the project started, ViVet has now launched a brand new resource called ViVet Bites which are short interviews with innovators who are making waves in the profession through technological development, new business models and other inspiring ways of working.

The first person to be interviewed for ViVet Bites is Sam Joseph, co-founder of StreetVet, which has some 300 volunteer veterinary surgeons and nurses providing free veterinary care to animals owned by the homeless community in a number of cities across the UK. In his interview Sam talks about how he and Jade Statt started StreetVet, his thoughts on the future of veterinary innovation and how vets can use their problem-solving skills to become innovators.

Dr Chris Tufnell, who is leading the ViVet project, said: “We are delighted that Sam has agreed to be our first ever ViVet Bites interviewee and his story demonstrates that innovation isn’t just about new pieces of equipment or software, but is about new ways of thinking about how veterinary services can be delivered – including to some of the most vulnerable in society.

“I am also very proud of the work that the ViVet project has been undertaking in the year since it has launched. Throughout the year, together with Anthony Roberts I have met many people working in the innovation and healthcare space, learning about current and future trends in innovation and providing regulatory advice and support.  We have a very exciting year to look forward to with some upcoming events and competitions. Make sure to regularly check in on this website and to subscribe to the ViVet e-newsletter for news and events and to keep up-to-date with the latest blogs, case studies and ViVet Bites.”

A podcast and a webinar featuring Chris Tufnell and Anthony Roberts speaking about the ViVet project and what it means are also available to download from the resources section of the website.

College publishes telemedicine consultation summary

We have published a summary of the consultation phase of our review of telemedicine within veterinary practice.

This comprises a summary report of our consultation held between 13 February and 24 March 2017 asking for the views of the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions, animal owners, and stakeholders on the use of telemedicine in veterinary clinical practice. The consultation was designed to help identify potential risks associated with telemedicine, identify areas where it may help address the needs of both clinicians and the public, and support the potential development of new professional standards and guidance.

The online survey of veterinary professionals received 1,230 responses, while the public consultation received 229 responses and the survey of organisations/stakeholders received eight responses. Written responses were also received from a number of organisations.

The results of the consultation were first considered at a special meeting of the Standards Committee on 31 August 2017, where it was noted that there the consultation revealed significant confusion around current supporting guidance to the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct and that, at a minimum, clarification as to what was currently permissible was needed.

The Committee determined a key issue going forward was whether to change the Supporting Guidance to the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct regarding ‘under care’ to allow veterinary surgeons to prescribe POM-V medicines based on telemedicine alone.

Given the complex nature of the issues and the wide-ranging implications, Standards Committee presented a range of options for amending RCVS Guidance to RCVS Council at its meeting on 2 November 2017. After discussion, Council asked the Standards Committee to continue their review and to present more detailed proposals to Council regarding the future of telemedicine in clinical veterinary practice.

Anthony Roberts, RCVS Director of Leadership and Innovation, commented: “We would like to thank all those who took the time to respond to the consultation – although Council has not yet made any firm decisions, we felt it would be useful to share our research so far.

“The use of telemedicine is growing rapidly in human healthcare and it is only right the RCVS assesses the opportunities it could bring to improve access to veterinary services. It is critical, however, that we understand the issues it presents ‘at the coal face’ and consider all the available evidence before making any changes to our Guidance. The RCVS should ensure its regulatory framework fosters innovation and maximises the opportunities to improve the quality, efficacy and accessibility of veterinary services, whilst at the same time protecting animal health and welfare.”

Standards Committee will meet again in April 2018 to take further evidence and develop proposals to take the issue forward.

Innovation on the agenda at BSAVA Congress

We will be at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress this week to promote ViVet as well as the new RCVS Leadership initiative and the launch of our free massive open online course (or MOOC).

Throughout the entire Congress in Birmingham we will be on Stand 105 where we will be promoting ViVet through literature, posters and a time innovation-themed game with the fastest player each day winning a Kindle Paperwhite.

We launched Vivet, an ambitious and wide-ranging programme designed to ensure veterinary professionals are at the forefront of innovation in the animal health sector, at our inaugural Innovation Symposium at The Shard in September 2017.

On the Thursday our Vice-Presidents Amanda Boag and Chris Tufnell, and our Director of Leadership and Innovation Anthony Roberts, will be hosting a breakfast session encompassing ViVet titled: ‘New initiatives to support veterinary leadership and innovation’ from 8:30-9:15 in Hall 6.

Amanda commented: “With this programme we hope to foster and encourage a whole new group of veterinary leaders within all branches of the professions. At some level all veterinary professionals face leadership challenges on a daily basis, and developing those skills can help us to thrive in the uncertain and complex environment of everyday life in practice, and give us the confidence to identify new and diverse career opportunities.”

The RCVS Leadership initiative was launched as part of the RCVS Strategic Plan 2017-2019, which had as one of its ambitions “to become a Royal College with leadership and innovation at its heart, and support this creatively and with determination.” The initiative’s goals include integrating leadership into veterinary professionals’ continuing education (in part by creating the MOOC), leading by example in the College by developing Council and staff members’ leadership skills, and highlighting more diverse leadership opportunities.

The leadership and innovation talk will kick off a whole stream of RCVS talks in Hall 6 – after which will follow ‘Welcome to Stanley: The new IT system for the Practice Standards Scheme and Q&A about the Scheme’ lead by Pam Mosedale, RCVS Lead Assessor, and Megan Knowles-Bacon, RCVS PSS Officer, from 9:25-10:10.

The next couple of sessions will focus on the Mind Matters Initiative, both hosted by Mind Matters Chair Stuart Reid. From 11:05-11:50 Elinor O’Connor, Director of Teaching and Learning Fellow at Alliance Manchester Business School, and Lizzie Lockett, RCVS CEO, will give a talk titled ‘Maximising wellbeing at work: an evidence-based approach’, and then from 12:00-12:45 there will then be a talk titled ‘Blaming, excuses and mindset – how changing the way you think and speak can help change practice culture’ with Anne-Marie Svendesen Aylott, Leadership Coach at PurpleCat Coaching.

The afternoon will then switch to a focus on VN Futures with a dedicated VN stream chaired by Niall Connell, Vice-Chair of VN Council. There will be talks on One Health by Helen Ballantyne; career progression by Matt Rendle; the future of veterinary nursing by Dot Creighton, Stephanie Writer-Davies and Liz Cox; and, support, training and recognition by Renay Rickard.

Throughout Thursday there will also be the opportunity to book a one-to-one PSS surgery with Pam Mosedale, PSS Lead Assessor, in the exhibition hall, to discuss any aspect of the Scheme. Please visit our event page to secure your slot, which will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

RCVS appoints new Directors of Communications and Technology

The College has formally welcomed two new members to our senior team who will take the lead on our communications activities and technological development respectively.

Our former Head of Communications Ian Holloway (top right) has been appointed Director of Communications, succeeding Lizzie Lockett who became CEO in November last year.

Ian is now responsible for the development and implementation of our communications strategy and activities, and maintaining the College’s reputation, profile and credibility within the veterinary professions, general public and other stakeholders.

Richard Burley (below right) has been formally appointed Chief Technology Officer with responsibility for leading our technology and information management.

This includes the delivery of a digital strategy that will improve the interactions the College has with its members, associates, staff and other stakeholders by using innovative and cost-effective technologies.

Lizzie Lockett, our CEO, said: “I am delighted to formally welcome both Ian and Richard to the College’s Senior Team.

“Ian has been a stalwart of the College for the past 16 years and has taken a lead on many of the College’s most successful communications projects over that time, including the introduction and development of its digital communications, marketing the relaunched Practice Standards Scheme, and the recent overhaul of the RCVS website.

“Richard is the first Chief Technology Officer that the College has had and this demonstrates the increasing emphasis that we are placing on developing how we use technology to engage with our stakeholders and drive greater data transparency and information security.

“He is full of enthusiasm and ideas and within just a few months has had a discernible impact in areas such as robust testing of all the College’s systems and services to ensure they remain fit for purpose.”

Technology and practice culture on the agenda for SPVS-VPMA Congress 2018

This month we will be exhibiting at the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) and Veterinary Practice Management Association (VPMA) Congress on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 January 2018.

The event takes place at Celtic Manor near Newport in South Wales where we will be exhibiting our latest projects and initiatives, and staff will be on hand to answer delegates’ queries about all aspects of our work.

Our staff and officers will also be giving and participating in a number of talks including:

  • Friday 26 January from 10.40am: the College is hosting a Mind Matters stream throughout the course of the day which will be chaired by Dr Max Pemberton, a psychiatrist, journalist and author. The stream will reflect many of the themes of the Mind Matters Initiative with workshops and talks on recovery from mental ill-health, team cohesion, building resilience and team management.
  • Friday 26 January at 11.40am: Our Senior Vice-President Chris Tufnell is giving a presentation entitled ‘Disruptive Innovation & Equine Practice’ in which he will relay his personal experience of how technological innovation can impact veterinary practice. Chris currently runs the College’s new innovation project ViVet.
  • Saturday 27 January at 2.10pm: Our CEO Lizzie Lockett is taking part in a group discussion called ‘Learning from Excellence’ which will look at how the veterinary professions can develop a ‘learning culture’ that allows professionals to learn from mistakes and improve their practice. Lizzie will report on the recent survey into ‘blame culture’ within the profession and how it can be turned into a more positive learning culture. Other speakers include Carolyne Crowe and Catherine Oxtoby from the Veterinary Defence Society and Richard Artingstall from Independent Vetcare.

The Practice Standards Scheme will also be celebrated during the course of the Congress with a special Awards Reception where practices that have achieved awards through the scheme will be honoured. All delegates and non-delegates are welcome to attend the event, on Thursday 25 January between 3.30pm and 5pm, to find out more about the Scheme, how the awards work and how to apply for them.

During the reception, PSS Lead Assessor Pam Mosedale will divulge some top tips for gaining awards; while Charlotte Hartley RVN will give a first-hand account of becoming an award-winning practice; and, our Director of Communications, Ian Holloway, will present the new communications toolkit which will aid practices to inform their clients about their achievements in the scheme and what these mean for them. Places at the event are available to book.

Throughout Friday 26 January there will also be a series of 20-minute one-to-one PSS surgeries with Pam Mosedale for practices needing bespoke advice and guidance about the Scheme. Surgeries are available to book on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dr Guen Bradbury

Reports and videos of Innovation Symposium now available

This website has been updated with written reports and videos from the programme’s recent Innovation Symposium at which the initiative was launched.

The ViVet programme grew out of the recommendations of the Vet Futures research and is designed to ensure veterinary professionals are engaged with innovation and technological development in the animal health sector.

ViVet was launched at the Innovation Symposium which took place at the Warwick Business School at The Shard in September and saw delegates working in the veterinary, health technology and/or innovation space gather to hear experts in the field.

Among those speaking were:

  • Professor Richard Susskind, a technology advisor to government and business, on the impact of exponential technological development on the professions;
  • Christopher Woolard from the Financial Conduct Authority on how regulators can support innovation;
  • Dr Umang Patel from health technology company Babylon on how telemedicine can support and enhance clinical standards;
  • Professor Dimitrios Spyridonidis, from the Warwick Business School, on the relationship between innovation and disruption;
  • Dr Guen Bradbury and Dr Greg Dickens from innovation consultancy Innovia on how practices can embrace technology;
  • Dr Adam Little, Director of Veterinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University on veterinary innovation in the North American context; and,
  • Anthony Roberts, Director of Leadership and Innovation at the RCVS, who introduced the delegates to the College’s ViVet project.

Videos of all of these talks plus the panel debates about telemedicine, big data and veterinary technologies currently in the pipeline, in addition to written reports of each, are available to view on this website.

We also have a number of blogs and case studies which look at areas of innovation in the veterinary profession and examples of how practices can best embrace technological and business development to enhance the service they provide and animal health and welfare.

Recent articles include the impact of 3D printing of veterinary orthopaedics, what the veterinary sector looks like from an outside investor perspective, how technology is creating alternative career paths for vets and how vets can best fuse online and offline interactions.

Anthony Roberts, ViVet’s Director of Leadership and Innovation, said: “The inaugural Innovation Symposium was a huge success, bringing  together some of the best and brightest in the veterinary innovation sector, with great  speakers, fascinating issues and an overall atmosphere of positivity about how the veterinary sector can move forward.

“Through ViVet, the College will now be working to provide support and advice to the professions on how they can both embrace innovation and also influence it so that it works in the best interests of animal health and welfare. We will also be examining our regulatory framework to make sure it is fit for purpose as far as supporting and encouraging veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses to make use of the full range of technologies are concerned.

“If you are interested in regular updates about the programme then please sign up to the ViVet newsletter at the bottom of this webpage.”

College announces winners of Innovation Symposium social media competition

30 August 2017

We are pleased to announce the ten winners of the social media competition to find veterinary surgeon and veterinary nurse innovators. 

The competition, which ran from 21 July to 21 August, asked veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses to post pictures of their innovative work on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtags #VetInnovator or #VNInnovator.

The winners will be provided with free entry to our inaugural Innovation Symposium, to be held at The Shard on Wednesday 20 September. Inspired by the Vet Futures research initiative, it is an invitation-only event that will bring together thought-leaders from the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions and those involved in innovative veterinary technologies or business models.

The winners are:

  • Jane Davidson, PlanetRVN, Social Media, veterinary nurse
  • Dr Mary Fraser, Guide Dogs for the Blind Veterinary Training, Education Innovation, veterinary surgeon
  • Jo Hinde and Dr Ivan Crotaz, LagoLearn, Education Innovation, veterinary nurse and veterinary surgeon (respectively)
  • Georgie Hollis, Veterinary Wound Library, Education/Digital Innovation
  • Alison Lambert, OnSwitch, Digital Innovation, veterinary surgeon
  • Jill Macdonald, OnCore CPD, Education/Digital Innovation, veterinary nurse
  • Dr Liz Mossop and Dr Martin Whiting, VetFinals, Education Innovation/Social Media, veterinary surgeons
  • Dr Laura Playforth, VetsNow, Process Innovation, veterinary surgeon
  • Kyriakos Spanoudes, NUI Galway, Regenerative Medicine
  • Prof John Williams, VetsNow, Process Innovation, veterinary surgeon

RCVS Vice-President Chris Tufnell, who helped to judge the entries, said: “Thank you to those who got in touch with us with their fantastic innovations such as the use of Twitter to help vet students revise for their exams, the development of innovative education materials and programmes, and process innovations that improve communications between team members and improve patient safety.

“The ten successful entries will receive tickets to our Innovation Symposium on the 20th September in the Shard and will be invited to display their ideas via posters in the break out areas. The diversity of the entries continues to demonstrate the innovative nature in which vets and vet nurses approach the essential role they play in ensuring animal welfare.”

The global profession, career diversity and innovation in focus at RCVS Day 2017

11 July 2017

In his maiden speech as our new President for 2017-2018, Professor Stephen May signalled his intent to help foster a nurturing learning culture within the veterinary profession that allows vets and veterinary nurses to learn from their mistakes and pursue a range of careers and goals.

Professor May was invested as President at RCVS Day 2017 – the College’s Annual General Meeting and awards ceremony – which took place at the Royal Institute of British Architects on Friday 7 July 2017. Stephen has been an elected member of RCVS Council since 2012, having previously been an appointed member of Council representing the Royal Veterinary College between 2001 and 2009. In 2016 he was re-elected to Council to serve a further four-year term and currently chairs the Legislation Working Party.

Stephen graduated from Cambridge in 1980 and subsequently spent time as a large animal practitioner. After undertaking further training in equine surgery and diagnostic imaging at the University of Liverpool, he studied for a PhD at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) before returning to Liverpool as a Lecturer in Equine Orthopaedics. He went back to the RVC in 1993 to concentrate on equine clinical services and, in 1997, became Head of the Farm Animal and Equine Clinical Department. He was appointed the RVC’s Vice-Principal for Teaching from 2000 to 2013, Deputy Principal from 2013 to 2017 and currently holds the post of Senior Vice-Principal.

Addressing the need for a learning culture in his speech Stephen said: “Veterinary graduates have never had greater knowledge and technical skills than those graduating this year. But this can make their job so much harder when the certainty of scientific knowledge is confronted with the uncertainties of the sick animal, and the increasing number of possibilities for treatment have to be weighted alongside ethical and economic considerations.

“Of his age, but also prophetic of our age, the philosopher Bertrand Russell commented that ‘habits of thought cannot change as quickly as techniques with the result that as skill increases, wisdom fails’. So it is important that our young professionals are well-prepared in terms of professional, non-technical skills to cope with the sheer variety of challenges that they encounter, and we, as a profession, within our professional model, provide a nurturing learning culture rather than the blame and cover-up culture that the current emphasis on external regulation fosters, so pervasively and distressingly.”

Stephen added that his other priorities would be working with the British Veterinary Association and other stakeholders to uphold the College’s first Brexit principle that ‘vital veterinary work continues to get done’, a project on graduate outcomes, which flows from the Vet Futures project, and the Legislation Working Party.

AGM and changes to RCVS and VN Councils
RCVS Day 2017 started with the Annual General Meeting of the membership of the College in which new members of RCVS and VN Councils were welcomed and appointments to the Officer team confirmed.

After an introduction to the proceedings by then President Chris Tufnell, members approved the minutes of last year’s AGM and the Annual Report and Statement of Accounts for 2016.

Our Registrar Eleanor Ferguson then read the results of the 2017 RCVS Council elections and the five new members of Council – Caroline Allen, Sarah Brown, Danny Chambers, Martin Peaty and Cheryl Scudamore – were invited to take up their seats and their four-year terms on Council. President Chris Tufnell, who had stood for re-election, was confirmed for a further four-year term.

In addition to the newly elected members, the Registrar confirmed that Privy Council-appointee Richard Davis would serve on RCVS Council for a further year.

The President then thanked retiring Council members Dr Jerry Davies, Dr Chris Gray, Peter Jinman, Dr Bradley Viner and Dr Tom Witte. He paid particular attention to Jerry, Peter and Bradley, all of whom are past-Presidents of the College and who had served a combined total of 40 years on Council as well as on various committees and subcommittees. All three were invited to the stage by Chris to receive his thanks and their scrolls.

For VN Council the newly elected member Susan Howarth was formally welcomed to her four-year term by Liz Cox, Chair of VN Council.

Liz also said farewell to retiring members Marie Rippingale, Peter Robinson and Neil Smith. Liz paid particular tribute to Neil who had served on VN Council for the past nine years, including four years as Vice-Chair, and who had also chaired RCVS Awards. She pointed out that he has been a champion of the role of veterinary nurse having been instrumental in implementing VN training within the Ministry of Defence.

For the Officer team, Professor Stephen May was confirmed as President for 2017-18, Amanda Boag as Junior Vice-President, Chris Tufnell as Senior Vice-President and Christopher (Kit) Sturgess as Treasurer.

Awards and honours
Following the AGM was the awards ceremony which, in addition to established awards such as the Queen’s Medal and Golden Jubilee Award, saw the introduction of the inaugural RCVS International Award.

This year the Queen’s Medal – the highest honour the College can bestow upon a veterinary surgeon – was presented to Dr Barry Johnson for his years of service to clinical practice, veterinary education and public service – including 28 years on RCVS Council and his position as High Sheriff of Lancashire from 2014 to 2015.

Reading the citation for Barry, Chris said: “His contributions to education, in particular, within the College were especially notable. He travelled to educational establishments all over the world to ensure that they were operating to the highest possible standards for accreditation by the RCVS.

“In addition to all his professional accomplishments, he has been a regional representative for Vetlife since 1994, supporting colleagues during some of their toughest periods. While the impact of his support, empathy and encouragement cannot be quantified, it can never be overvalued.

“From serving as the President of the Lancashire Veterinary Association in 1986, to acting as Trustee for the Animal Health Trust from 1994 to 2006, to lecturing at Myerscough College in equine and farm animal subjects for about 30 years, Barry’s contributions are truly wide-ranging.

“In 1994 Liverpool University awarded him an Honorary DVSc, and in 2005 Myerscough College made him a Fellow. We are pleased now to add to his achievements the RCVS Queen’s Medal, the highest honour we can award to a veterinary surgeon. In doing so, we hope to recognise not only his many accomplishments, but the spirit in which he conducted his career – with empathy, humour, diplomacy and integrity.”

Upon being presented with the award Barry said that, having worked with many new graduates and younger members of the profession, he was very optimistic about the profession’s future.

Following the bestowal of the Queen’s Medal, VN Council Chair Liz Cox took to the stage to present the Golden Jubilee Award – which recognises those veterinary nurses taking a leadership role in the profession.

This year’s winner was Kathy Kissick, former Chair of VN Council and former Head of the School of Veterinary Nursing and Farriery at Myerscough College.

Reading Kathy’s citation, Liz said: “Kathy has been a tireless advocate of the veterinary nursing profession. Even now when in ‘phased retirement’ a typical week may involve locuming at the local veterinary clinic in Alderney, consulting remotely for veterinary nursing students at Myerscough, chairing the Animal Welfare Committee, or acting as Trustee for the Alderney Animal Welfare Society.”

She added: “Her passion for practical, evidence-based medicine has created a legacy of integrity-driven practice, and her contributions to the RCVS as VN Council Chair and VN Council member have changed the education of veterinary nurses all over the country.

“Kathy leads by example, and is a constant source of inspiration both to students and her colleagues. It is an honour to present to her today the highest honour we can bestow upon a veterinary nurse.”

Upon receiving the award Kathy told the audience that veterinary surgeons should believe in their veterinary nurses, encouraging them to pursue their dreams and wear their RVN badges with pride.

Next Chris presented the inaugural RCVS International Award to French veterinary surgeon Christophe Buhot, former President of the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe.

Reading from Christophe’s citation, Chris said: “Christophe is a consummate bridge-builder who is able to navigate his way around the intricacies of European politics, as demonstrated by his positive relationships with the continent’s many veterinary associations, the EU Commission, the European Parliament, the European Medicines Agency and the European Council.

“He has also reached beyond the borders of Europe by promoting dialogue and collaboration with the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and the World Animal Health Organisation.”

He added: “Under Christophe’s stewardship, a Vet Futures Europe project, based on what the RCVS did here in the UK in conjunction with the BVA, is underway to look at the challenges and opportunities confronting the profession across the continent as a whole.

“Christophe’s diplomacy, knowledge and ability to build strong relationships throughout Europe has helped raise the profile of veterinary practice across the continent.”

In remarks made after receiving his award, Christophe thanked the President and the RCVS for the honour and stressed the need for veterinary professionals across Europe to work even more closely with one another in politically uncertain times.

Chris then went on to bestow two Honorary Associateships – an award for lay people who have made a significant contribution in the veterinary sphere. The first was made to Heather Armstrong from the Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust for her work on health and welfare for equids. Chris spoke highly of the work carried out by the charity having volunteered for them in the past.

The second Honorary Associateship was awarded to Professor Duncan Maskell, the first non-vet Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge and current Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Cambridge and Marks & Spencer Professor of Farm Animal Health, Food Science and Food Safety, for his contribution to pathogen research and animal-focused science.

RCVS Fellowships were also presented to Professor Andrew Cunningham, Dr Anthony Lepper (collected on his behalf by his son David Lepper) and Dr Francis Scullion, with diplomas in equine soft tissue surgery, pig medicine, small animal surgery (orthopaedics) and zoological medicine (reptilian) also being presented.

Chief Executive’s address
Following the awards it was time for Nick Stace, our Chief Executive Officer and Secretary, to give his final address ahead of leaving the College at the end of September to take up a role at the Prince’s Trust.

He gave an overview of his time at the College citing achievements such as the Vet and VN Futures projects and left three pieces of advice for the RCVS going forward.

“First, continue to embrace change. US Army General Eric Shinseki once observed that ‘If you don’t like change, you will like irrelevance even less’. The whole world has gone digital and if telemedicine is good enough for our children and even babies, then it is probably OK for your family cat.

“Second, be in charge of your future, the principle that inspired Vet Futures…. I am delighted to say that the profession is turning up and turning out in greater numbers than ever before. We thought 11,000 responses to the ‘Dr title’ consultation was a lot, but even more people have responded to the Schedule 3 consultation. Furthermore, 50 per cent of non-UK EU vets responded to our Brexit research and we had record turnouts in both our Council elections this year.

“Third, look after yourselves and your people. The Mind Matters Initiative has struck a chord with people because the professions, as with society at large, has real issues with mental health. We all need to work to reduce the stigma and improve the wellbeing of those around us,” he said.

Nick also praised the Council members and the Presidents he has worked with as well as the RCVS staff without whom, he said, “all these projects and initiatives over the past five years would not have happened”.

He then handed over to the outgoing President Chris Tufnell for his address.

President’s address
In his address, Chris spoke about the enormous contribution veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses make to fostering and enhancing the bond between animals and humans. He demonstrated it through a number of personal stories including his time volunteering with the Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust where he worked with local farmer N’fally and his mule Ernest and recognised that the animal was more than just a work tool but also a companion and a pet.

“It is in this human-animal bond that we, as vets and vet nurses, play such a vital part. When we are called upon to support this bond, we form a trinity of vet, animal and owner. It is a privileged position and one that, as individual professionals, I know we all treasure. We are ‘allowed in’ to this special relationship to ensure its continuance and I believe that it is this responsibility that drives our sense of duty from day to day,” he said.

Chris added that he was lucky enough to work on a number of projects during his presidential year and picked out Brexit and innovation as two key ones.

On Brexit he said: “It is something that we didn’t foresee when the Vet Futures project was underway, but for which so many of the Vet Futures actions will prepare us. I’m delighted that one of our responses to Brexit is to expand our global reach and strengthen the links that we have with so many other countries in the world.”

On technology he added: “As a profession, we are great innovators and so many practical solutions to problems in practice come from within the team. However, the pace of change with regards to technology is outstanding.

“I started out the year concerned that some of this change would sideline the professions and potentially be detrimental to the service we deliver. I was very wrong.

“The technologies that I have seen will enhance animal health and welfare and improve our ability to deliver it. But, it is not technology that is innovative on its own. Advances in technology enable innovative business models, and it is these that we as professionals need to seize if we are to remain in the centre of animal health and welfare.”

Once Chris had finished his address the event then moved to the investiture of Professor Stephen May as President.

Guest speaker
This year’s guest speaker was Ebony Escalona (pictured right) from Brooke: Action for Working Horses and Donkeys, an international welfare charity that works to improve the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules and the people who depend on them.

Her talk, entitled ‘Jump outside the veterinary box: widening our horizon’, considered a number of issues including how veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses can contribute to One Health, combating career disillusionment through career diversification and innovation.

She described how, through her work with the Brooke, she uses her veterinary and animal welfare knowledge to educate communities in places such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Senegal so that they reap the benefits of having working animals that are fit, healthy and well looked after.

She also cited the vital role of technology in disseminating information to communities, mentioning the Brooke’s new Learn Appeal, in which animal welfare education content is preloaded onto a ‘computer capsule’ that can be used in areas where the internet and access to electricity are limited or non-existent.

On the subject of career disillusionment, Ebony said that the power and reach of social media could be a tool to help spread inspiration and advice to members of the profession.

“After attending a recent session on disillusionment issues with our profession I was struck with how bad the situation was. I realised how far away I had moved from any of those feelings. Sure, I had a number of friends that felt stuck but they had all been pretty good at seeing opportunities and taking action.

“One night I had just got off the phone to a particularly lost friend. This made me really quite sad and I thought there has to be a way to facilitate inspiration for change. My story is not going to resonate with everyone but there will be people who can inspire or assist the plethora of people out there wanting to improve their professional situation. As a collective we all have incredible capabilities, backgrounds and experiences – so how can people get access to inspiration?,” she said.

She cited her Facebook group called ‘Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify’ aimed at giving positive examples of veterinary surgeons who either stayed in clinical practice, left clinical practice to pursue new avenues or diversified their portfolio.

She concluded: “Let’s focus on opportunities, not the problems. Just like Learn Appeal this [Facebook] forum is making lightbulbs accessible. In fact, everything I have been talking about regarding the Brooke and one welfare apply here. Shining light on role models, providing peer-to-peer inspiration, creating an empowering community and signposting that answers are commonly right next door.”