9 e-Letters

published between 2016 and 2019

  • TB testers: the pursuit of excellence

    The TB tester audit information detailed in the recent correspondence from XL Farmcare UK suggests that the vast majority of TB testing in this country is currently being carried out to a very high standard and is another small but significant positive news story from the bovine TB battle front.
    The incidence of confirmed slaughterhouse cases (another indirect measure of the quality of on farm TB testing) has also been declining with a 40% reduction over the last 5 years (DEFRA statistics).
    Having been TB testing for four decades, it is my observation that recent changes in the training of new TB testers and the introduction of regular on farm TB audits by XL Farmcare UK and APHA, have both been significant factors in pushing up the quality of TB testing in England and Wales to the current high levels. Some of the audits are unannounced but all have been collaborative and when deficits in technique are identified, the XL Farmcare auditors, who are experienced in testing themselves, have also been offering coaching to help ensure confidence in the correct technique.
    This outcome is particularly commendable, as those that are now performing this task at a high standard, are often working in conditions on farm that are less than ideal.
    In my opinion, the challenges today are how to maintain these high standards, how to improve the level of health & safety expectations on farm during a TB test, and for APHA to start to recognise the value of...

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  • Tim Greet remembers Brian Singleton

    Dr William Brian Singleton CBE, Dip ACVS, FRCVS

    Brian Singleton died quietly at his home in Blakeney, Norfolk, on 23 October 2018, at the ripe old age of 95. Brian was one of the most distinguished veterinary surgeons of his or any generation and had the unique distinction of being a past president and one of the founding members of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), a past president of the RCVS and perhaps surprisingly, also of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). I am certain that this will never be achieved again.

    Others have written of his small animal surgical skills in private practice in Pont Street, with Woody Woodrow a co-founder and first president of BSAVA. However, my first involvement with Brian was when he was a newly appointed director of the Animal Health Trust (AHT) and I was a Horserace Betting Levy Board scholar, keen to gain experience in Newmarket, working on equine airway disease with Dr Bob Cook. Brian not only facilitated my appointment but was a great source of inspiration and encouragement. He was an honorary diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, a rare distinction for a private practitioner working in the UK. He always insisted on the highest surgical standards and was not slow in ensuring that we young surgeons always strived to improve ourselves. He encouraged and supported my joining Peter Rossdale’s practice, at a time when relationships between the two Newmarket practices c...

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  • Memories of JET Jones

    Stuart Lake writes - As a research assistant to ‘JET’ Jones in Professor Laing's department at Bolton's Park, from 1969-72, and one of his early PhD students, sponsored by the Meat and Livestock Commission, I wish to add my tribute to his life and work in the profession.
    He did valuable research into Streptoccocal endocarditis in pigs and collaborated with medical research colleagues in many related projects. Pathology was at the root of his endeavours and the role of bacteria in porcine disease inspired many years of research into diseases that were of particular importance to the industry. He revered Koch's postulates and insisted on concise correct English when submitting scientific articles and reviewing them for esteemed scientific journals. Investigations in the field supported by excellent bacterial and histopathological facilities enabled us to elucidate the role of Klebsiella species causing mastitis in the sow. These investigations also enabled the improved teaching of UK teaching of undergraduates, and his involvement conducting the diploma of animal health course was of immense value to those students.
    Jet was greatly respected within government and university research organisations here in the UK and abroad. He was not overtly political in life and showed consideration to all.

  • Memories of Sir Dawda Jawara by Neal King

    The obituary of Sir Dawda Jawara (VR, 21 September, 2019, vol 185, p 350) triggered vivid memories of July 1994.
    I was privileged to be the new president of the RCVS at the tail end of the celebration of our sesquicentenary of the royal charter granted in 1844. The Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) had been instrumental in promoting the regulation of the profession - presumably to protect its members from charlatanism.
    It occurred to me that to persuade the RASE to ask a vet to open the Royal Show would appropriately mark the 150 years of our common history, and that within the profession we had the longest serving Commonwealth head of state, the president of the Gambia.
    The idea fell on fertile ground and Sir Dawda came to the UK on a private visit accompanied by his wife and entourage.
    Glasgow university honoured him with a formal dinner and on the Sunday morning I was invited to his hotel to discuss the contents of his upcoming speech, finding myself ensconced on a sofa with the charming, unassuming, and very likeable president.
    On the opening day of the show a helicopter was to bring him from his hotel to the showground. Arriving 20 minutes late it disgorged not Sir Dawda, but most of his entourage before retreating to the skies to collect the President and his lady. We were by then an embarrassing 45 minutes late.
    His speech, containing nothing of my suggestions or our common history, was otherwise brilliant in its conten...

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  • Telemedicine and conflicts of interest

    I am grateful to the registrar for her response to my letter on Telemedicine and Conflicts of Interest in general. I would agree that it is inevitable that council members will have ‘interests’ in a wide range of issues and indeed their breadth of knowledge, experience and exposure to these issues is an asset to council. It is also entirely appropriate that interests are openly declared and assumed that members will serve with the highest level of integrity for the benefit of animal health and welfare.

    It is however not, in my opinion, appropriate to assume that all levels of interest are viewed in the same way and that by simply declaring an interest, no further scrutiny would be appropriate. In formulating policy on conflicts of interest, the RCVS should take the level of interest (and therefore the potential for gain through bias) into consideration. It is appropriate to record that in the event of conflicts of interest arising, there is already guidance in place for the relevant committee chair or president to request the following actions of council members -

    1. Standing down from the committee, sub-committee, etc.; 

    2. Not attending a particular meeting; 

    3. Leaving the room for the duration of a particular item; 

    4. Staying in the meeting for the discussion but leaving the room when the decision is made or a 
vote taken; 

    5. Staying in the meeting throughout to provide information and advice only; 

    6. Staying in the...

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  • Looking after interns and residents

    Sir, This is the first letter I have ever written to the Veterinary Record in 15 years as a veterinary surgeon, but I read with considerable interest the letter 'Looking after Interns and Residents' by Anon (http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/vr.l1200). Whilst there are, no doubt, many who have enjoyed their internships/ residencies, I agree with Anon that my impression is that this does not seem to be the norm. Many, such as myself, who might have gone on to pursue a residency and a career in specialist medicine, did not do so because of the very negative experience during the internship. I know I am very far from being alone in this. The account given by Anon about their experience, and the negative effect of the behaviour of senior staff, completely parallels my own experience and that described by many others I have met. How many careers that might have prospered have been ruined in this way? Those overseeing internships and residencies should reflect that they have a duty of care, not just to the mental wellbeing of junior staff, but to inspire and encourage the ambitions and aspirations of young vets who want to make a real contribution to our profession at the highest level, and not to destroy them.

  • Unsung Hero?

    I have never heard of Victor despite being in practice for nearly 40 years. I feel it is my loss. What a wonderful example to us all in the veterinary profession. I wish I had met him.
    I hope his research can be stored and archived for us all to use?

  • Time for a change?
    Jeremy Naylor

    Reading this piece by Sophie Walsh was like feeling a breath of fresh air on a hot and sticky summer's day. We constantly hear how stressful life is as a vet, the high rate of mental illness, addiction and suicide, the physical danger (at least in equine work), the high rate of dissatisfaction and colleagues leaving the profession and the difficulty of recruiting suitable candidates to jobs in practice. While, of course,...

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  • Pain relief in sheep
    Finbarr M O'Sullivan-Greene

    As pleased as I am to see research improving the weight of evidence behind pain relief in sheep, I feel it is important to note that as bupivacaine, fentanyl and methadone are not contained in the table of allowed substances in Commission Regulation EU No 37/2010 they cannot be prescribed under the cascade to food producing animals in the UK/EU.

    Conflict of Interest:

    None decl...

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