Established 1870
A Division of the British Veterinary Association

CVS logo

Minutes of a General Meeting of the Society held on Thursday 20th March 2003 at the Athenaeum Club, 107 Pall Mall, London.

Present:  the President Prof. A. R. Michell and 27 Fellows and guests.

Apologies for absence had been received from 18 Fellows.

Minutes of the meeting held on 20th February 2003 had been circulated and were approved.

Matters arising:  none.

Correspondence:  none.

Any Other Business:  the President welcomed two new Fellows, Mr. Paul Manning and Miss Helen O'Hare.

The President then welcomed the guest speaker, Mr. Julian Wells, who spoke on "Ethical Dilemmas in Small Animal Practice".

Mr. Wells commented that we face ethical dilemmas daily - with colleagues, clients, patients, insurance companies and the tax man.  Corporate practice brings even more. By definition, morals describe right and wrong ways of behaviour, while ethics describe the reasons why some thing is right or wrong. Modern society relies on the law to codify important ethical points, and it is thus essential to ensure that the lawmakers understand science.

'Do as you would be done by' is a common philosophy, but different people expect different things. 'Someone else will only do it' is another common justification - we can ban certain experiments, or battery cages, but the practice then simply moves elsewhere where we have no control over welfare. Well-meaning individuals may demonstrate love, but with no concern for welfare.

Euthanasia is a privilege, not an admission of failure, and it is the professional's duty to help the owner make the decision. The moment is arbitrary, and is it being unnecessarily prolonged by insurance cover? The more is done, the more premiums rise - will clients be able to support these higher costs?

Corporate practices set fees for business reasons, they are not a local charity, and fees are less likely to be relaxed in informal almoning. 'State of the art' costs money, and there can be a two tier approach. How much should one investigate? It is an abrogation of responsibility to leave it up to the owner, who is after all paying for advice.

The evening ended with a wide-ranging and sometimes heated discussion on renal transplants. It was suggested that this was a scientific procedure, not an act of veterinary surgery, as the donation was not in the donor's interest, but the Home Office had referred the matter back to the RVCS. There was much concern about the necessity for life-long anti-rejection medication of the recipient, and about the fate of the donor. We must ask, for whose benefit is this being done?

Next month's General minutes | Minutes index page | Home page