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Minutes of a meeting of Council held on Thursday 23rd January 2003 at the Athenaeum Club, 107 Pall Mall, London.

Present:  the President Prof. A. R. Michell, Prof. J. Bleby, Mr. R. Ewbank, Mr. L. Gibson, Mr. B. Hoskin, Dr. M. Kerr, Mr. K. Meldrum, Mr. A. Muckle, Mr. M. Nelson, Mr. J. Oliver, Mr. A. Porter, Mr. B. Viner.

Apologies for Absence:  Mr. H. Robinson, Mr. G. Tribe.

Minutes of the previous meeting on 14th November had been circulated and were approved.

Matters arising from the minutes not covered elsewhere:  none.

Correspondence:  Mainly items from BVA, mainly by email, including notification of 17 separate consultation documents.  The email correspondence was all forwarded to Council members and to those Fellows who had expressed an interest.  Also papers for BVA Council meetings in December and January, and a number of newsletters and notifications of social events.  An email had been received from Mr. M. Kirk, enquiring if anyone might be able to recommend legal representation or any other advice for Privy Council.  The meeting did not feel able to offer any recommendations.

President's report:  The President welcomed everyone to the meeting, and had no further report.

Secretary's report:  Fellows had been circulated with an offer to include them in an email list to receive the BVA consultation notifications.  Five Fellows had expressed an interest, and the list had been set up.  A report and picture (courtesy of Mr. M. Nelson) of the dinner a the House of Lords, also including a report of the Café du Marché meeting in November, had been submitted to Off the Record.  No reply had yet been received to the letter sent to Jane Virgoe on 11th October regarding communications.  The Hon. Secretary was asked to write again, emphasising the wish of CVS Council to see this matter addressed.

Treasurer's report:  The Hon. Treasurer sent his apologies, but reported that the Society was solvent!  There had been a problem with the Café du Marché, who had refused to accept payment from Fellows for drinks, and had then billed the Society.  We must careful with this in future, but the incident wouldn't bankrupt us.

BVA Representative's report:  The bulk of the meeting was taken up by comments from Fellows on the situation at the BVA, in particular the papers circulated for the Council meeting on 28th January.

Prof. J. Bleby had pre-circulated a written report on the Council meeting on 11th December.  Things were moving in a generally favourable direction, with Mr. B. Hoskin included in the team responsible for data collection and progress planning, and Mr. A. Porter in the Governance and Management Project subgroup.  However, membership was still declining and financial losses were excessive.  Legal and professional fees were missing from the accounts, and one item of £512,000 of "extraordinary expenditure" was not itemised.  BVA Trust funds were run down and advertising revenue was down 25%.  Pension fund problems were highlighted (pension fund no. 1 has been wound up, and remaining staff transferred to pension fund no. 2).  The Executive minutes reported an underlying surplus of £432,000, but exceptional items meant that a loss was recorded.  More details were required of this.  It was noted that the AWF had had an offer from Mr. J. Baird to take on a consultancy rôle, and that they were legally and contractually bound to consider this.  This prospect was received very negatively by all present.

Mr. A. Porter reported that he had attended a meeting called at very short notice for 22nd November, for representatives of the Territorial Divisions, and had circulated a written report to Executive officers.  Only six representatives attended, and nothing momentous transpired.  He had also attended a meeting of the new subgroup earlier in the day (23rd January).  This was intended mainly to look at which items needed to be discussed in the future, including the potential liability of BVA for any negligent advice given by divisions (especially specialist divisions), and the possibility of having to support small specialist divisions who were required to host a major conference.  Legal advice was to be obtained on how to separate BVA Ltd. (the company) from the Professional Association.  Redefinition of the rôles of Executive/Council/CEO was needed, and elections should display effectiveness, transparency and democracy.  The re-establishment of the post of Treasurer was to be considered.  The choice of BVA spokesman to the Media should be considered - should this be someone from the Executive, or should this be delegated to the appropriate specialist division (as with BMA, who use consultants as spokesmen)?  The (pre October) draft of the BVA Handbook was a mixed bag and needed more work, but should prove a useful resource to be circulated to all members.

Mr. B. Hoskin emphasised the over-riding need for the BVA to reconnect with the divisions and the membership, and expressed concern that in the desire to achieve the right solution the urgency of the situation was being overlooked.  The question of the Board of BVA Ltd. was an issue, including the Executive, and the inclusion of non-veterinary management expertise should be considered, as should the matter of an independent Chairman.  Procedures which are already working well should not be interfered with.

Mr. K. Meldrum agreed that the response to the situation was too measured, and there was a need to bring in people from outside to get things moving.  There was also a need to look outwards, for example to be seen to be making a contribution to government and policy.  Mr. Meldrum has discussed the setting up of another group with a remit in this area with Mr. P. Jinman, and will email Prof. Bleby with points to be raised.

AWF Representative's report:  Mr. R. Ewbank reported that he had received no communication for over six months, but had discovered by telephoning that the trustees meet on 6th February.  Suggestions were needed for Kate Kerr re You and Your Vet.  The question of the remit and function of the AWF was discussed, with all agreeing that this needs to be examined and redefined.  The possibility of a contingency charity fund was discussed, as was the urgent need to replace the estate agent dealing with the Hayward legacy.

Membership:  The membership list had been checked against the new edition of the RCVS Register.  Four lapsed Fellows who no longer appear on the Register had been deleted, and it was noted that two were probably dead and one other had moved to Copenhagen.  Three others had different addresses in the Register compared to CVS records, and it was proposed to write to them at their new addresses to ascertain their wishes regarding membership.  Membership currently stands at 90.

Mr. Brian D. Hoskin had been proposed for Fellowship of the Society by Mr. Porter (sec. Prof. Bleby), and Mr. Meldrum recommended to Council that it should recommend to the general meeting that he be admitted as a Fellow.  In anticipation of this, it was also agreed that Mr. Hoskin be co-opted as a member of Council.

Competition Commission:  The report of the Commission had not yet been published, but was expected towards the end of February.  It was noted that pharmacists were not really able to provide for veterinary needs, and didn't really want to.  Mr. M. Nelson noted that the position regarding generic substitution had been accepted, and Mr. T. Crouch had thanked him for his influential comments.  The use of human generic preparations was well down the cascade and substitution could not be made on the initiative of a pharmacist.  Prof. Bleby remarked on the degree of pharmacological ignorance among people dealing with this matter.  Further discussion was deferred to the next meeting, in anticipation of the publication of the report.

Any other business:  Mr. A. Muckle tendered his apologies for the February meeting, by reason of his honeymoon being planned for that week.  All present offered their sincere congratulations.

Date, time and place of next meeting:  Thursday 20th February 2003 at 6.00pm at the Athenaeum Club, 107 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5ER.

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