BVA president Harvey Locke officially opened BVA Congress 2011 with a welcome reception and awards ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in London.

BVA president Harvey Locke officially opened BVA Congress 2011 with a welcome reception and awards ceremony at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in London.

In his presidential address last night (September 22) he discussed the theme of his year “Vets in a changing world” and commented on British Veterinary Association‘s achievements and challenges over the past twelve months, as well as looking ahead to the two-day congress being held at the RCP on September 23 and 24.

Harvey Locke speaking at the opening of the 2011 BVA CongressTopics covered in the address included the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review and the Animal Health and VLA merger, of which Mr Locke said: “As the budget headlines of the comprehensive spending review become the reality of cuts we are acutely aware of the impact on our colleagues in state employment and those in private practice supplying services to the government.

“The Animal Health VLA merger in April was a significant event, and the need for the new agency to find ongoing savings will have repercussions for the profession for years to come.

“Earlier this week AHVLA revealed its plans for TB testing procurement by tender and in recent weeks we learned of financial cuts to be made in the veterinary laboratory network. In the face of these changes the BVA has consistently made it clear that the veterinary surveillance network must not be compromised.”

Mr Locke said such challenges were “common to all parts of the UK” but because animal health and welfare budgets are devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the responses are different.

He said: “BVA presence in the regions of the UK has never been more important. This year we have seen Scottish Branch go from strength to strength and we have initiated closer working with colleagues in Northern Ireland. Perhaps most significantly we also re-established a Welsh branch, under the presidency of Bob Stevenson.”

Mr Locke also focused on the subject of pet travel, saying: “The BVA and BSAVA continued to work very closely with DEFRA, FVE, and colleagues from Veterinary Ireland to secure the right level of protection for the UK and Ireland from rabies and tapeworms. Our science-led approach has gained a sympathetic ear in the European Commission and we are close to winning the argument on measures to keep Echinococcus multilocularis out of our country.”

BVA Congress 2011Closer to home, Mr Locke referred to the Legislative Reform Order to update the disciplinary structure of the RCVS and ensure the ongoing public trust in the regulation of the veterinary profession.

He said: “In light of this progress the BVA is still firmly of the view that we do not need a new Veterinary Surgeons Act, and we will continue to work with the college to provide for the regulation of veterinary service providers.”

On the impact of inceasing tuition fees, he told the audience: “I don’t need to tell this audience that £50,000 tuition fee debt could seriously impact on our ability to attract young people into veterinary medicine, to promote less-well paid jobs in large animal practice, research and medicine and to widen access to the profession.

He added: “Again, each country within the UK is responding to the issue differently and we are working with the Association of Veterinary Students and others to make the case for more financial support for veterinary undergraduates, who are in a unique position.”


  • Other topics covered in Mr Locke’s address included World Veterinary Year, the establishment of the Veterinary Development Council (VDC), veterinary medicines and dog welfare.
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