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Politics and the day job

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POLITICS may not always seem relevant to day-to-day veterinary practice, but they do have a tendency to intrude. By combining politics with cpd, this year's bva Congress, which will take place from September 27 to 29, should help with the day job, while providing an opportunity to understand some of the issues that will shape that job in the future.

The congress will be held in Belfast, to mark the centenary of the North of Ireland Veterinary Association (niva). Its format will differ from that of previous years in that, in addition to the political programme, there will be a substantial cpd element, provided by various bva divisions and partner organisations. A wide range of divisions are involved, and the programme reflects the breadth of their activities, with coverage of topics pertinent to the species most commonly seen in practice, as well as practice management and personnel issues, and subjects related to biosecurity and veterinary public health. Those contributing to the programme include the Association of Veterinary Surgeons Practising in Northern Ireland, the Association for Veterinary Teaching and Research Work, the British Cattle Veterinary Association, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (Northern Ireland), the bva Overseas Group, the Sheep Veterinary Society, the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons, the Veterinary Benevolent Fund and the Veterinary Public Health Association. By their nature, bva divisions are closest to what is happening in their particular field. Their combined expertise has been focused into a programme consisting of four lecture streams over two days, and delegates will be able to pick and choose sessions to match their particular interests.

Small animal topics to be covered at the congress include approaches to the cancer case, management of osteoarthritis, and diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Equine topics include periparturient emergencies in the mare and foal, and assessment and management of wounds of the lower limb. The emphasis in the cattle programme will be on disease prevention and biosecurity, with specific consideration of bovine viral diarrhoea virus, Johne's disease and infectious bovine rhinotracheitis. Common nutritionally related clinical problems in dairy herds will also feature, while sessions on sheep and goats will focus on parasitic gastroenteritis, caseous lymphadenitis and scrapie. Further sessions will consider factors affecting the uk's ability to contain national disease outbreaks, and changing approaches to food hygiene and veterinary public health. Meanwhile, in what may prove to be one of the more politically contentious sessions at the congress, speakers will consider different approaches to controlling bovine tuberculosis (tb).

Sessions in the practice management programme will give advice on consultation skills, complying with health and safety requirements, and meeting the demands of modern consumers. There will also be discussion of the new system of modular certificates being introduced by the rcvs. Additional sessions will consider mental wellbeing in the veterinary profession and how to achieve an appropriate work-life balance.

As well as bovine tb, the political sessions at the congress will examine how the new Animal Welfare Act will affect uk veterinary surgeons, and the role that they and others might play in helping to make sure that the good intentions of the Act are realised. Recognising the impact that decisions made in Europe have on veterinary activity, the bva's plenary Wooldridge Memorial Lecture this year will be entitled ‘Making headway in Europe’. It will be given by mep Avril Doyle, who has taken a particular interest in animal health and welfare matters and will identify issues of current concern and explain how to influence developments. Related sessions will consider the new Community Animal Health Policy that is being developed in Europe and the likely implications at national and local levels. Looking beyond Europe, a programme devised by the bva Overseas Group will examine the contribution made by vets to communities in the developing world as well as their role in the management of disasters, both natural and man-made.

The veterinary profession has become increasingly specialised in recent years but members still face common challenges. Judging from the programme, this year's bva Congress should provide ample scope to pursue specific interests. Just as importantly, it provides an opportunity to catch up with colleagues in different disciplines, and gain new insights into issues affecting the whole profession.

  • Brochures for the 2007 bva Congress were distributed with The Veterinary Record of May 26. Details and registration forms are also available on the Association's website, at

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