All set for a bumper year - Veterinary Practice
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All set for a bumper year

Veterinary Practice previews this year’s big event in Birmingham

Cold economic winds may be blasting their way across the country but BSAVA officers are experiencing a warm glow as they contemplate progress towards the association’s annual congress in Birmingham next month.

In defiance of the negative national mood, organisers of the world’s biggest small animal veterinary meeting are upbeat about their prospects of matching the successes of previous years’ events.

The congress chairman, Andrew Ash, says the commercial exhibition space has been sold out and for the first time there is a waiting list for places in the huge National Indoor Arena. Indeed, in “family hold back” manoeuvre, the association’s own exhibitors such as BSAVA publications have given up their normal spaces in the main hall and moved up to the first floor balcony area.

Numbers of delegates registering early for the meeting appear to have matched, if not exceeded, last year’s figure. New registrations will continue right up to and during the meeting from 2nd to 5th April. So the BSAVA team is confident that the event is continuing to grow.

“If you consider the current climate, this is a fantastic result – it shows the underlying strength of the veterinary industry, the strength of both the association and the product it is offering to members,” Mr Ash says.

Not that the BSAVA is complacent about the risks of an economic downturn affecting small animal practice. There is a noticeable current affairs element to this year’s programme and to give a trans-Atlantic perspective on the prospect before the profession, the association has invited Dr Karen Felsted as a guest speaker. Dr Felsted is chief executive officer for the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, a non-profit organisation which was set up following a decline in the veterinary profession in the 1980-90s.

The commission [see] is charged with improving the economic base of the veterinary profession in the US, and ensuring that the delivery of veterinary care and service meets the needs of society. The work includes a national benchmarking programme developed to give veterinarians an opportunity to evaluate their performance level and receive information on how to make improvements in their business practices, Mr Ash explains.

In another session organised jointly with the BVA on Friday 3rd April, the association is holding a seminar on the PETS scheme and European Commission plans to remove the UK’s current derogation from European law on the free movement of companion animals.

This allows Britain to impose restrictions intended to prevent the introduction of rabies, arthropod-borne parasites and the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis. Invitations have been sent to the chief veterinary officers of the four states which share the UK’s derogation (Eire, Sweden, Finland and Malta) and to representatives of DEFRA, the Department of Health, European Commission, etc.

High quality education

As always, however, the main attraction of the BSAVA congress is the availability of high quality and affordable continuing education sessions for both veterinary surgeons and nursing staff.

Among the highlights of the veterinary programme this year will be sessions on intestinal and pancreatic disease, haemostasis, feline endocrinology, orthopaedics, soft tissue surgery and forensic veterinary medicine.

The programme organisers pride themselves on their ability to attract a range of speakers on all aspects of veterinary medicine and surgery, offering material of interest to practitioners with varying levels of knowledge and skills.

Among the veterinary masterclass sessions will be Anglo-American presentations from Mike Kowaleski (Tufts University, Massachusetts) and Malcolm McKee (Willows Referrals, Solihull) on tibial plateau levelling procedures, and Rosanna Marsella (University of Florida) and Tim Nuttall (University of Liverpool) on the treatment of atopic dermatitis in small animal practice.

Meanwhile, among the main attractions on the nursing programme will be a presentation from Mike Farrell, a European specialist in small animal surgery, on post-operative care and physiotherapy for patients recovering from cranial cruciate ligament surgery.

Later, Claire Bloor, VN, from Myerscough College near Preston, will urge nursing colleagues to expand the clinical services provided by their practice by setting up dedicated dental clinics.

BSAVA congress is also very much a social event and the entertainment this year is a match for anything offered at previous events. The Saturday party night will include music from the Hoosiers and the Saw Doctors and comedy from the hilarious (and often very rude) Scottish comic Frankie Boyle.

Even with such an appealing programme, Andrew Ash will experience certain sadness as preparations for the 2009 congress reach their crescendo. He will step down this year after three years as congress chairman and a total of nine years as a member of the organising team.

“Yes, it is hard work but it is of a very different sort to the type we are used to in small animal practice. But the thing I will remember most about being involved is that it has been so much fun.”

Mr Ash’s next step will be onto the BSAVA officer team ladder as he becomes the next junior vice-president. His job as congress chairman will be taken over by the current exhibition co-ordinator, John Williams, and Steve Tasker will slip into this newly vacant chair.

Together with the other members of the congress committee they will start planning the 2010 event and also begin the lead up to the 2012 meeting which the BSAVA is holding jointly with the WSAVA.

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