CENTRAL VETERINARY SOCIETY
A Division of the British Veterinary Association
Minutes of a meeting of Council held on Tuesday 29th March 2005 at BVA Headquarters, 7 Mansfield Street, London, W1G 9NQ.
Present: the President Mr. B. Hoskin, Prof. J. Bleby, Mr. C. Boyde, Mr. H. Hellig, Mr. C. R. Herbert, Dr. M. Kerr, Prof. A. R. Michell, Mr. J. Oliver, Dr. A. Porter, Mr. H. Robinson.
Apologies for Absence: Mr. L. Gibson, Mr. A. Muckle, Mr. R. Ewbank, Mr. K. Meldrum, Mr. M. Nelson.
Minutes of the previous meeting on 6th December 2004 had been circulated and were approved.
Matters arising from the minutes not covered elsewhere: Prof. Bleby reported that he had received a copy of the audited accounts of the AWF.
Correspondence: The usual emails regarding consultation documents and news digests, passed on to Council members and interested Fellows. A menu selection for the dinner at the House of Lords. A letter from Mr. Tim Sainting of BVA enclosing two sets of address labels - one of all BVA members in Surrey and Sussex, including existing Fellows of the CVS, and a list of students. Concern was expressed that what had been requested was a list of new members, and that a lengthy list of longstanding members did not fulfil this requirement.
President's report: no separate report.
Secretary's report: Dr. Kerr expressed some concern that bookings for the Centenary Prize lecture at Egham the following week were rather low, and requested that Fellows should scare up some attendees.
Treasurer's report: Mr. Herbert reported that the BVA had attempted to charge the CVS for a dinner in December, when we had merely had a cup of coffee and repaired to a restaurant after the Council meeting. They had now withdrawn this invoice! The reserve account stood at £5069.22, the McCunn current account at £560.43, the McCunn reserve account at £1608.68, the Centenary Prize current account at zero, and the Centenary Prize reserve account at £1201.02.
BVA Representative's report: Prof. Bleby submitted a written report on the BVA Council meeting on 8th December 2004, which had been circulated in advance. He noted that both the CVS nominees had been approved for the relevant positions.
BVA Council Agenda:
- Prof Bleby noted the item in the minutes regarding the financial position, and reported that he had raised this matter, asking that the position on the agenda should ensure that the item was taken when most members would be present, and requesting a summary to inspect in advance of the meeting. It was hoped to improve this procedure for the future.
- Membership. It was noted (as above) that the notification sent had not been that of new members. Mr. Hoskin reported that he intended to raise the matter of ensuring that deceased members were honoured with their correct titles in BVA reports. It was noted that there were more resignations than new members if new student members are excluded. It was questioned whether young members drop out at the end of the lower-fee period, and what was the relative popularity of the various members' services.
- Three suggestions were made for the future of the Territorial Divisions - the status quo, an evolving structure, or regional divisions. Regional divisions seemed too remote, and the other two are the same thing. A territorial page in the Veterinary Record would be advantageous, as would more email communication. Mr. Hellig pointed out that specialist divisions tended to lobby only for their own interests, and a broader perspective was required. There was much discussion, with the conclusion that more information regarding activity was needed, especially regarding actual activity as opposed to simple membership numbers, and procedures in place for discussing BVA business.
- Regarding the Medicines Regulations, it was considered important to highlight the few really vital issues. The question of not allowing a charge for prescriptions had to be argued - clients always had the right to ask for a prescription, but not free of charge. Prof. Michell raised the question of the pharmacists, and the necessity of the right to dispense being linked to competence to dispense. Supply has to be in the context of relevant expert knowledge, but at this early stage how can a client rely on encountering one of the few pharmacists with the relevant diploma? He pointed out that VNs are in a much better position to advise on important matters such as how to administer the medicine.
- Dr. Kerr and Mr. Robinson expressed concern about the section in the proposed Regulations (schedule 1, part 8, subsection 2, paragraph 49) which allows for the registration of homoeopathic remedies, apparently within the cascade, without requirement to demonstrate efficacy. This appears to be a dangerous precedent. Although no therapeutic claims are to be allowed, the inclusion of these preparations within the Regulations will be interpreted as implying therapeutic usefulness, and validating homoeopathic methods. There is also a paradox inherent in this course of action. If homoeopathic remedies are inert and essentially content-free, why are they included? Conversely, if the homoeopaths' explanations of mysterious energies and profound effects are given credence, where is the justification for assuming that such novel and poorly understood phenomena are inevitably harmless - particularly when homoeopathic literature records many apparent adverse events. Is the BVA considering this matter?
- Coalition for medical progress. The responsibility of the government to inform the public about the necessity for high-quality animal research and the methods employed was highlighted, and the desirability of making the Annual Return a public education exercise emphasised. The question of compulsory lectures in Laboratory Animal Science in the undergraduate course, or its incorporation into residency programmes, was discussed. Fitting everything into a week of AVTRW roadshows seemed a waste of resources, and Prof. Bleby agreed to ask for clarification regarding facilitating collaboration with AVTRW.
- Policy Development. It was noted that the ten priorities seemed to cover almost everything, but there was general support. Prof. Michell pointed out that the Minister has had the existing position since 2000 but this hasn't been examined. Are the RCVS/BVA trying to change this? It seemed as if this was more of a tabula rasa than either an acceptance of or a definite change to existing proposals.
- Electoral College. It was felt that if candidates were so sensitive that "losing" would cause psychological distress, they should get out of the kitchen. Candidates should also be required to come through Council. Democracy requires choice, therefore inevitably there will be losers. More candidates rather than fewer would be a better option, and an anointing would be a retrograde step.
- VSA. It was questioned whether the BVA was simply deferring to the RCVS, and ignoring everything that CVS (principally Dr. Porter) have put forward. "Institutional arrangements" are not the only central issue. The influence of corporate practice on medical standards, and the matter of paraprofessionals, their regulation, and certification of their work for export must be addressed. DEFRA's proposals have never been presented, and the RCVS has simply set out where it was prepared to give way. The implications regarding the Royal Charter have not been mentioned. Professions require both conduct and competence committees as separate entities, and the criteria for the appointment of lay members must be revealed. Drafting of the legislation is also crucial, as getting the right words to reflect the intent can be a nightmare. Prof. Michell was of the opinion that the veterinary profession will be forced to follow the precedents set by other healthcare providers, and what these will be is not even known yet - complaints and adjudication may not even be left with the profession, and if this mechanism is separate, where is the need for a separate RCVS and BVA?
- We need to know the BVA view, as opposed to a hotch-potch of RCVS ideas. DEFRA must be asked, considering that healthcare professions are subject to review, and considering that (unlike most doctors and related occupations) the veterinary profession are not public employees, will we be driven by the same criteria, that is no self-regulation? The fall-out from the Dame Janet Smith enquiry (Shipman) will affect all healthcare, not just the GMC.
- The remaining items were taken as read.
AWF Representative's report: taken as read.
Membership: Dr. Kerr reported that Mr. Peter Koder had resigned, following his retirement from Imperial College and the veterinary profession. Mr. James Barnett also resigned, having recently moved to work in Devon.
Any other business: Suggestions and nominations for post of Junior Vice-president 2005-06 were invited. Prof. Bleby suggested Dr. Porter, and intimated that this appointment would be within the constitution. However, Dr. Porter declined to accept the nomination. Prof. Michell indicated his intention to stand down from Council at the end of the current year, and the Hon. Secretary reported that Mr. Muckle had indicated a similar intention. It was noted that a call for nominations for all Council posts for 2005-06 should accompany the next general mailing.
Arrangements were discussed for the April meeting at Royal Holloway, with Dr. Kathy Clarke receiving the Centenary Prize and the President of the RCVS Students Union attending as guest to receive the McCunn Prize. Arrangements were also discussed for the May meeting at the House of Lords, which was subsequently cancelled due to a clash with the State Opening of Parliament.
Date, time and place of next meeting: subsequently arranged for Tuesday 31st May 2005, at 5pm, at the Athenĉum Club, 107 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5ER, before the AGM.
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