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Minutes of a meeting of Council held on Tuesday 2nd December 2003 at Royal Holloway College, Egham.

Present:  the President Mr. A. Muckle, Prof. J. Bleby, Mr. R. Ewbank, Mr. B. Hoskin, Dr. M. Kerr, Mr. K. Meldrum, Mr. J. Oliver, Mr. H. Robinson.  Mr. M. Nelson arrived at 6.56 pm.

Apologies for Absence:  Mr. C. R. Herbert, Mr. L. Gibson, Prof. A. R. Michell, Mr. A. Porter, Mr. G. Tribe.

Minutes of the previous meeting on 11th November had been circulated and were approved.

Matters arising from the minutes not covered elsewhere:  The President reported that he had received a reply from Mr. P. Jinman regarding the CVS discussion document on the new VSA, however he had heard nothing from Mr. T. Greet in response to the second copy which had been sent to him.

Correspondence:  Again the usual emails from various BVA departments concerning consultation docu ments and press releases, all of which had been forwarded to Council members and those Fellows who had expressed an interest.  Also the papers for the December BVA Council meeting, and a letter from Mr. L. R. Thomsett expressing his regret that he was unable to attend the evening meeting and mentioning his happy memories of the Willett practice.

President's report:  The President drew attention to the article by Mr. M. Nelson published in the most recent edition of Veterinary Times, regarding the January meeting at Chertsey, and reported that the cost of the buffet meal at Chertsey would be £10 per head.

Secretary's report:  Nothing further to report.

Treasurer's report:  The Hon. Treasurer sent his apologies due to illness.

BVA Representative's report:  BVA membership was decreasing, and still divisions were not being notified of new members within their area.  The falling numbers of large animal vets was a matter for particular concern.

It was unclear whether any attention had been paid to Mr. Porter's discussion document, but Mr. R. Eddy was scheduled to make a presentation to BVA regarding the new VSA.  In general, everyone concerned seemed to be blind to previous discussions of the matter.  Any response sent to BVA seems to disappear, and Mr. Porter's paper was not seen at the meeting.  Mr. K. Meldrum said that he had drafted a response to the rather amateurish paper from DEFRA.  He expressed concern that 20 vets on RCVS Council was too small a pool to draw on for Presidents, which may impact negatively on the influence of the RCVS.  The cost of the new proposals was also a concern.  If a vet were to be suspended, then the suspension was overturned, might there be liability for compensation?  Could this be limited?  Insured against?  Any power of the Preliminary Investigation Committee to impose penalties in less serious cases would inevitably be open to abuse, and so is surely undesirable.

Mr. Muckle questioned whether the BVA even supports a new VSA.  Mr. Meldrum said that DEFRA was the main proponent in pushing for a new Act, and wanted more lay people on Council.  Perhaps lay people might achieve more?  BVA at present is not even responding to Ministers.  The question was raised as to whether the BVA should produce its own draft Act, involving Mr. Porter in the process of course.  It was agreed that the CVS should press for the BVA to do this, inasmuch as time allowed.  Prof. Bleby was to request the latest draft, to circulate to Mr. Meldrum and Mr. Porter for comment.

The candidates for election to the Board were discussed, noting that four were to be elected out of the six standing, and the future of BVA Congress.  Harrogate has been cancelled for 2004, in favour of a two-day meeting in London, near Mansfield Street, which will be political rather than CPD.

Mr. Meldrum reported that the State Veterinary Service was to become an Agency, which caused concern at all levels.  In an emergency such as FMD, all Agencies would back up DEFRA.  The new CVO rôle seems to be diluted and could be much smaller than before, as it does not combine the post of Director General.  A subgroup of the VPG may be necessary to consider these issues.  Another group may be needed to look at the question of large animal practice.  If there is no income from medicines, practices may simply pull out of that sector.

Mr. Hoskin reported that no appointment had been made for the new Head of Veterinary Practice Development, as the most suitable person had wanted to work from home, three days a week.  New advertisements had been placed, 22 replies received, and 11 completed applications submitted from quite good candidates.  In the mean time Mr. K. Taylor was filling the post temporarily, four days a week.

Election of future BVA Presidents: an electoral college in January will submit two names to March Council to be voted on.  Any Division may nominate members for the Electoral College.

On a separate matter, Mr. Hoskin reported that the Veterinary Surgeons Health Support Programme (see report of CVS meeting on 16th May 2002) was seriously short of money.  The high incidence of drug and alcohol addiction among vets was a matter of great concern, and 43 people required help this year, with no resources to support this.  It was proposed to merge the VSHSP with the Veterinary Benevolent Society, but this change of course itself carries financial implications.

AWF Representative's report:  Mr. Ewbank circulated some correspondence for information.  He reported that the next year's Annual Report was intended to be a full-dress glossy publication.

Membership:  There was no change since the previous meeting.  Prof. Bleby suggested that in order to try to increase members the notice of the Chertsey meeting should include a recruiting exhortation, and that proposal forms should both be sent with that notice and circulated at the meeting itself.

The question was raised as to whether Dr. D. Reynolds, the new CVO, is a CVS Fellow - in fact she is not, therefore this matter needs to be addressed.

Any other business:  It was noted that the McCunn Dissection Prize is currently in abeyance, and the RVC can't seem to sort it out.  Prof. Bleby proposed that the award be renamed the "McCunn Memorial Prize", and be awarded annually to the President of the RVC Students Union.  The proposal was seconded by Mr. Hoskin, and agreed by the meeting.  It appeared that there were no remaining copies of the facsimile edition of Stubbs' Anatomy of the Horse which had been awarded to the Prize winners, but there may be copies of an alternative.  Prof. Bleby was to enquire about the current situation regarding the prize money, and whether any suitable books were available.

Date, time and place of next meeting:  Thursday 22nd January 2004, 6.00 pm, in the Crown Hotel, Chertsey, Surrey.

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