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Minutes of a General Meeting of the Society held on Tuesday 15th June 2004, at BVA Headquarters, 7 Mansfield Street, London, W1G 9NQ.

Present:  the President Mr. B. Hoskin and 20 Fellows and guests.

Apologies for absence had been received from 18 Fellows.

Minutes of the meeting held on 11th May 2004 had been circulated and were approved.

Matters arising:  none.

Correspondence:  none

Any Other Business:  none.

The meeting was then addressed by Professor Tim Greet, BVMS, MVM, DipECVS, CertEO, DESTS, FRCVS, President of the BVA, on "The Future of the British Veterinary Association".

Prof. Greet offered a wide-ranging insight into the workings of the BVA, from the 'night of the long knives' in 2002 to the present restructured body facing the challenges of the future.  The theme was transparency, credibility and trust, working for 'one voice for the veterinary profession'.  A number of initiatives were discussed, including the need to engage more with the specialist divisions, the veterinary schools and the young members of the profession, reorganisation of BVA Congress, and the need for BVA to engage more with other major conferences.  The necessity for the profession to produce more effective briefings for MPs and parliamentary bodies was also highlighted.

New graduates should be seen as omnipotential rather than omnicompetent.  Many were overqualified for life in general practice, frustrated by routine, and needed both support and the challenge of lifelong learning and revalidation.  The future was seen as a holistic view of life, with the feminisation of the profession acting as a catalyst for flexible working and changes in career patterns which the male graduates were in fact seeking as much as the female.

The catastrophes of BSE and FMD have changed the government view of the profession.  As it is cheaper to import food, we are an adjunct to the tourism and leisure industry.  This creates many challenges, and raises the question as to whether we are still the custodians of animal welfare.  The BVA must talk to the profession and the public to engender respect for the profession, and reclaim its natural manifestos from the RCVS.  This requires involvement from all levels of the profession, but sadly many are interested only in CPD provision, seeing little value in politics and presuming that someone else is looking after the shop.

Prof. Greet stressed that the choice was stark.  Are we a profession or a trade?  We need engagement from the majority and the profession must speak with one voice.  We need a regulatory system that will last for the future, and he outlined a proposal whereby discipline and regulation were separated from the RCVS (to a 'GVC'?), at which point 'charter RCVS' and the BVA could amalgamate into a super-body which could deliver members and credibility.

The meeting ended with a very wide-ranging discussion, covering the importance of advising government and officials as a routine rather than an emergency undertaking, and the need for a proactive and energetic approach to adaptations for the future.

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