Greater diversity, a truly integrated one health approach and zero veterinary suicides were just some of ambitions for the profession discussed at the first meeting of the Vet Futures Group.

Vet Futures is jointly run by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), and aims to help the profession prepare for and shape its own future.

The first meeting on January 26 included veterinary surgeons from a range of backgrounds, including small animal, equine and farm animal practice, food hygiene, research, education and industry, as well as members of the veterinary nursing profession and animal owner groups.

The purpose of the day was to discuss the first tranche of research carried out by the project team – based on interviews and focus groups with vets and vet nurses, BVA and RCVS council members, animal owners and other users of veterinary services, and also a literature review.

The project team says this has provided a snapshot of the issues facing the profession in the UK today and what is known about their likely future impact.

The literature review identified possible drivers for change, including demographic factors, economic forces, the increasingly competitive market, client behaviour, food supply and global imperatives, and mental well-being. Both research reports are available at www.vetfutures.org.uk/resources

The Vet Futures team challenged delegates to identify goals for the profession to achieve by 2030. Discussion was wide-ranging, with suggestions including:

·The veterinary profession providing a one-stop shop for all information, advice and support on animal welfare issues, and adapting the community care approach of human health care to animal welfare.
·A more structured profession with clearer entry requirements and career development opportunities.
·Less stress and improved work-life balance.
·Practice to be less focused on margins from medicines sales.
·Zero veterinary suicides
·The most trusted profession in the country.
·Less anthropomorphism – treating as far as we should, not as far as we can.

The two pieces of research discussed at the meeting, together with feedback from the delegates, will now inform the next phase of the Vet Futures project, which will include a survey among BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession panel members, a larger survey among the whole of the veterinary and veterinary nursing profession, and a series of roadshow meetings across the UK.

The third and final phase of the project will be the development of a report and action plan to be launched towards the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the dedicated vetfutures.org.uk website continues to host a “Topic of the Month” and other resources.
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