Quantity and quality at year’s big event - Veterinary Practice
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Quantity and quality at year’s big event

MIKE NELSON records his impressions of another successful congress and his encounters with some of the folk there

THE BSAVA president, Frances Barr, narrowly achieved every president’s ambition to reign over a record congress. It was announced at the AGM that the number of delegate days had beaten the previous year’s total by one!

However, quantity is not the only criterion by which a congress should be judged – quality is far more important. The prevailing view seemed to be that she had managed to crown her year on both scores.

My first encounter after arrival on Thursday at midday was to cross her proud parent’s path: Jennifer and Alastair Porter were for once basking in her reflected glory and Alastair was like the cat that had got the cream.

My first encounter with science was the stimulating and masterly presentation by Baroness Greenfield on Consciousness. Her delivery, centre stage, without notes, away from the lectern, was reminiscent of David Cameron’s delivery at last year’s Tory party conference. Even more fascinating was her unfaltering use of the English language, combining humour and throw-away lines that reminded one of Victoria Wood.

An early encounter with Roger Green established that he was (at last) retired from doing locums – as he found his preferred treatments were gradually disappearing from the dispensary shelves. Not that he has given up work completely. He still provides his experience as an expert witness. In these days of litigationminded clientele, his is a name worth noting!

I heard that The World of James Herriott Museum in Thirsk is under threat as the local authority says it cannot afford to continue its annual grant. The museum might have to close but there are moves afoot to save it. We shall hear more of this, no doubt, as it deserves to be saved, as much as the London Poisons Unit which is also threatened with closure.

The grapevine informs me that a possible remedy is an annual practice subscription set on the basis of the number of vets in the practice and a consultation fee for each referral.

The Commercial Exhibition provided the usual alternative of continuing education on products, old and new, from characters similarly old and new. One old hand was David James, founder of DRM Dental, who supplied me with my first reliable dental scaler some 28 years ago. Indeed, he told me he had only recently been to South Croydon to service it, and it was still going strong, like David!

Sporting prowess

He was once the World No. 3 Latin American Dancer as well as a member of the Peggy Spencer Latin American Formation Team when they were World Champions. He actually batted in a Kent match with Dennis Compton when he was 15; at the same age, he played in the Arsenal B Team – until he broke his arm and had to leave. I suggested it was a good job he did not break his leg or they might have put him down.

Schering-Plough Animal Health, a congress sponsor, enlarged since last year’s acquisition of Intervet, launched its new product, Zylkène, at congress. I was informed it takes the stress out of life in the same way that mother’s milk has a calming effect on the newborn in the first few days of life. It contains a bioactive decapeptide, derived from casein, but is not broken down by pepsin.

I commented that Zylkène would therefore be undigested until it was in the small intestine when it encountered trypsin. The young lady expressed surprise that I would know that; in much the same way that I was encouraged to learn that my memory was better than I thought!

David Hallas, Schering-Plough’s general manager, was flying in from the USA overnight Friday and was due to land at Heathrow early morning on Saturday. It should have been in good time for his arrival to participate with 100 invited vets at the product launch and the lunch afterwards.

Unfortunately, he was flying BA into Terminal 5. He did, in fact, arrive in Birmingham late afternoon, miraculously with his luggage. We hope he had some Zylkène with him.

Attracted to the Bayer HealthCare stand by new claims for Advocate, it appears that this has much potential already but more for the future as global warming increases the incidence of lungworm, as well as heartworm. According to Bayer, 38% of vets in one survey have had suspected or confirmed cases of lungworm in the UK. Not always easy to diagnose, it is obviously something to bear in mind.

2Sys Ltd offers a practice management computer system based solely on an internet connection and browser. You do not need a server or practice software and it is claimed to save on capital investment. You do not need to back-up and clients can log onto their own account, monitor patient progress, check statements, order repeat prescriptions, pay bills and so on.

There is more to it than just that but you can learn more from the website, www.vetit.co.uk, an unfortunate name perhaps! However, some ISPs and phone connections to broadband are not always that reliable so there may be pluses and minuses.

My packed lunch on Saturday included a bottle of Johnson’s Orange and Raspberry Juice that was remarkably palatable, although one vet at our table remarked that the last time he saw a similar liquid was in a bitch with pyometra!

Information service

Sunday saw the AGM which has tended to be somewhat mundane in recent years and not as lively as in the early days when I started attending BSAVA congress.

This year, however, we were treated to the award of honorary membership to Bruce V. Jones, a founder member of the BSAVA who initiated a scientific information service on behalf of the association with all the abstracts of possible interest to members. From this grew the first BSAVA publication, which gave rise to the JSAP under his editorship.

One must not forget he is the Jones of Jones’ Animal Nursing! It culminated in his hard work producing the commemorative booklet for the association’s fiftieth anniversary in 2007. This recognition was not before time and greeted with acclamation.

The AGM came to an end after Frances Barr handed over to her boss at the Bristol vet school, Ed Hall.

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