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Veterinary Services
Securing the veterinary role in society
  1. A. Liddon,
  2. S. Bradley and
  3. P. Lowe
  1. Centre for Rural Economy, School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Agriculture Building, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU
  1. e-mail: anne.liddon{at}

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This is the first in a series of six articles produced for Veterinary Record by a group of social scientists and historians drawn together by Philip Lowe, author of the 2009 report ‘Unlocking potential: a report on veterinary expertise in food animal production’. The articles reflect on some of the challenges for the profession posed in his report and aim to stimulate debate about the wider role of vets in relation to government and society.

Philip Lowe's report ‘Unlocking potential: a report on veterinary expertise in food animal production’ was published two years ago and made a range of recommendations for how the veterinary profession might re-engage with its customers. Here, Anne Liddon, Sue Bradley and Professor Lowe set the scene for a series of discussion articles, to be published in Veterinary Record over the next few weeks, which will reflect on some of the issues raised in the report and the wider role of vets in relation to government and society

TO many vets, appointing a social scientist to chair the Vets and Veterinary Services Working Group in 2007, and then asking him to write a crucial report on the role of the veterinary profession in food animal production, may have seemed unorthodox. We, of course, would argue that this has brought a strength which can help vets gain a broader perspective on their technically focused profession and its place in the UK today.

In 2004, when Defra published the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy for Great Britain, it was generally accepted that the UK's farm animal health and welfare record was in urgent need of improvement. The strategy aimed to develop a stronger partnership approach, with greater clarity about the roles and responsibilities of all involved. The focus was to be on disease prevention, and the part played …

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