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CONCERN that the Government does not give the veterinary profession the recognition that it deserves was expressed by the BVA President last week in his speech to guests at the Association's annual London dinner.
Speaking on February 16, Bill Reilly commented that, despite the BVA's generally excellent relationship with Defra, he was concerned that ‘vets are not afforded the recognition that I believe we deserve by government’. The theme he had selected for his year as BVA President was ‘vets and the public good’ - an issue close to his heart, because he had spent most of his career in public health. However, he believed that it was a subject that was overlooked by clients, the public in general and, perhaps most worryingly, by the Government.
Professor Reilly referred particularly to the current dispute between the BVA and Animal Health regarding fees for Official Veterinarians (OVs). ‘We play a vital role on the frontline of disease surveillance and control and in safeguarding the farming industry, food production and public health,’ he said, ‘but most OVs will tell you that their work is largely thankless.’
He continued: ‘We have long argued that OVs should be paid a professional fee for their work. Over the past few years the BVA has been negotiating to secure remuneration that reflects the time and skill involved.’
‘We were deeply disappointed by the proposal from Animal Health when, despite the considerable work on both sides to research appropriate rates, they suddenly put forward a pay scheme which took no account of the professional service delivered. Can you imagine the response to such an approach to our medical colleagues?’
Professor Reilly emphasised that the BVA had not walked away from further negotiations with Animal Health on this matter, but it believed that it had to make a …