With the activities of vets subject to intense public scrutiny and an impending TV documentary almost certain to focus on “a profession putting commercial gain before patient care”, the profession needs to take more responsibility for educating the public, claimed outgoing BSAVA president Richard Dixon.
With the activities of vets subject to intense public scrutiny and an impending television documentary almost certain to focus on “a profession putting commercial gain before patient care”, the profession needs to take more responsibility for educating the public, claimed outgoing BSAVA president Richard Dixon.
Speaking at the BSAVA AGM on April 12, Dr Dixon used his outgoing speech to address the need to embrace the national media as a means of telling the public about the good work done “day in day out” by members of the profession.
Further, he claimed the impending Panorama programme on the profession was a “huge opportunity” that must be seized to show how the vast majority of interactions between clients, pets and vets are “overwhelmingly positive”.
He told delegates: “The pace of development in the world in general is accelerating and, as our profession is increasingly coming to realise, we are not somehow immune from the forces and societal changes around us. Once upon a time being part of a ‘profession’ meant a degree of insulation. This is no longer the case. Indeed, the professions have never been subjected to more challenge. An increasingly demanding public and the modern media expect total transparency and accountability, and our activities are now subjected to intense scrutiny.
“I don’t think any of us have, or indeed should have, a problem with the concept of transparency – quite the opposite, in fact. If anything, what we don’t do nearly a good enough job of is shouting about our successes. Genuinely well intentioned campaigns such as the longstanding vaccination debate then escalate because we have failed to educate the public and media of the overwhelmingly positive impact that preventative healthcare continues to have on the global pet population.”
He went on: “The storm over the impending Panorama programme has sometimes felt like knowing the train was going to crash but not knowing on which day to avert your eyes. First it was January, then February, then March, then ‘congress’. Well, whatever the final date of screening, one thing is for sure: closing our eyes and hoping the dust quietly settles is not the approach the profession should be taking, and not the one this association will take. This is a huge opportunity and one that we must seize.
“The detail of the accusations remains to be confirmed but a theme of the profession putting commercial gain before patient care seems certain. While individual incidents of bad practice will never be condoned, the vast majority of the interactions between clients, pets and vets are overwhelmingly positive and we intend to get this message over loud and clear. Of course, bad apples must be dealt with appropriately, but we as a profession must take more responsibility for educating the public. And whether you like it or not, that means the media – educating them about the good work that is done day in day out by members of our profession committed first and foremost to patient care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“Panorama is not an issue we should be running scared from. It is a golden opportunity to raise our game and tell it like it is.”
Other issues discussed by Dr Dixon during his outgoing speech included the changes introduced since the broadcast of Pedigree Dogs Exposed, the extension of derogation from EU pet travel rules, puppy farming and the review of the VN Awarding system.
In closing, Dr Dixon welcomed Grant Petrie as incoming BSAVA president. He said: “While Grant might understandably be somewhat anxious about taking on the role of president, I can reassure the entire membership that the BSAVA will be in trustworthy and safe hands over the coming 12 months.”