What’s new post-Brexit at the Official Veterinarian Conference 2021 - Veterinary Practice
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What’s new post-Brexit at the Official Veterinarian Conference 2021

The OV Conference returns in an online format for 2021, providing information on the most recent developments and updates affecting the roles of OVs across Great Britain

Following the success of its online debut last year, the Official Veterinarian (OV) Conference is returning in the same format for 2021 from 28 to 30 September. This conference, organised by Improve International in association with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), is the only veterinary event dedicated to the CPD needs of OVs, providing a unique forum for the discussion of recent developments and current topics of interest in OV work.

Though tailored for OVs, the conference is open to all vets, animal health paraprofessionals, nurses, practice managers and students, and provides all delegates with 18 talks by expert speakers interspaced with 15-minute breaks, with each day containing six talks. The online format will give delegates the opportunity to learn safely without even needing to leave their home or practice; delegates can join the live event – where questions can be directly put to the speakers – or catch up afterwards, with sessions being available for six months after the event.

The focus for this year’s conference is the evolution of the OV role as new processes, procedures, issues and challenges arise in the face of a post-Brexit world. Commenting, Sue Hay, head of OV training at Improve International, said: “The UK’s exit from the EU has resulted in many changes to certification procedures, and this has been a challenge for all of us. At this year’s OV Conference we look forward to hearing from APHA specialists and experienced OVs who will give an insight into why the changes are necessary and how to overcome the challenges that they present. 

“We have scheduled two live Q&A sessions which will provide the opportunity to put your certification questions to a panel of experts. The conference will also cover a series of updates on high profile notifiable diseases and other topics of interest to all vets.

“The online format makes it possible to join us from anywhere in the world without the need to travel and we look forward to a highly informative and interactive few days.”

The platform

The online platform is easily accessible to anyone with a device and a steady internet connection (though a desktop computer or laptop is recommended for the best experience) and is managed within a safe and secure conference space. Ticket holders will be sent their log-in details for the platform via email during the week before the conference to provide the utmost security.

During each session, delegates can put questions to the speakers by using the Q&A panel. Delegates can also make the most of opportunities to network with colleagues using the discussion forum built into the platform.

Support will be available in the case of any technical issues, and all lectures will be recorded. This means that, within two working days of the live event, sessions will be available to watch or re-watch on demand for six months after the event (until 31 March 2022).

The programme

Official Veterinarian and Regional TB Test Assessor Andrew Carrington will chair this year’s event, boasting a programme of talks from experts in their fields, including the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Christine Middlemiss, BVA President James Russell and APHA officials.

Day one

Tuesday 28 September opens with an address by the UK’s CVO Christine Middlemiss and BVA President James Russell’s “British Veterinary Association Hot Topics”. Olivia Ogińska, from Vet Gone Real, will follow with a session discussing fierce compassion and appreciative inquiry arguing that “a culture of compassion improves staff well-being and reduces the incidence of burnout, presenteeism and absenteeism” using the fictional Dr Gregory House as a point of comparison. Peter Scott will deliver a lecture on some of the problems related to microchipping and ways to avoid them.

In the afternoon presentations, Leonardo Benito de Valle (veterinary advisor for field delivery at APHA) will discuss the hot topic of African swine fever. Olivia Ogińska will then present her second talk, titled “That toxic one – managing incivility at work and resolving intra-team conflicts”. Gideon Smit and a panel of experts will answer queries about the export of companion animals and completion of AHCs in the day’s final Q&A-style presentation.

Day two

Day two opens with an update on the APHA TB regional policy for England, Scotland and Wales by Claire Wade, David Harris and Patricia Touw of APHA. Phil Hogarth (lead scientist for bovine TB at APHA) continues this theme with a lecture on the bovine TB cattle vaccination programme. In the last of the morning sessions, Sam Holland (veterinary head of exotic disease and welfare in APHA’s veterinary advice services) will look at the rise of Brucella canis cases in the UK, answering the fundamental questions of “How do I recognise it?” and “What should we do about it?”

After lunch, Caroline Wilson (veterinary advisor in APHA’s Veterinary Exotic Notifiable Disease Unit) and Sascha Van Helvoort (veterinary head of field delivery for outbreaks at APHA) will present updates on avian influenza (AI), after the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 saw the largest outbreak of AI ever seen in Great Britain which included 22 cases of highly pathogenic AI.

Ana Velloso Alvarez is scheduled to discuss equine herpes virus: after experiencing the EHV-1 outbreak at an international competition last February first-hand, Ana will be giving an insight into the major effect this had on the equestrian community and outline how it was managed, as well as the most effective methods of preventing future outbreaks. Ian Wright will be closing the day with a talk on “Brucella and beyond: the importance of screening imported dogs for exotic parasites”, after the recent increases in dog importations in the UK.

Day three

The final day, 30 September, opens with Philippa Liles (veterinary officer at the APHA Centre for International Trade, Carlisle) answering the question of “Who is looking at what on your signed export certificates?” This is followed by a presentation by John Briggs, Redmond Strivens and Karen Roe, who will be looking at how the new EU Animal Health Regulations will affect future exports, and will also give an introduction to the new e-Trade System for certification, and Jose Arruga (OV for Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority), who will deliver a lecture on the Border Control Post in the Port of Felixstowe and its import control operations.

There has been a last-minute addition to the OV Conference schedule: John Briggs, Redmond Strivens and Karen Roe will be looking at how the new EU Animal Health Regulations will affect future exports, and give an introduction to the new e-Trade System for certification

The first session of the afternoon will be given by former Veterinary Director of APHA Simon Hall, who is currently working as an OV with Amivet, specialising in export certification of products. This will be followed by Philippa Liles’ second talk, titled “Lesson in unlearning – AHCs!”

The final session of the OV Conference 2021 will be a Q&A-style session on the export of animal products for human consumption with a panel of experts made up of Arjen Brouwer, Heather Escala, John Briggs, Jose A. Arruga and Simon Hall.

Further information


A maximum of 18 hours of CPD can be collected over the course of the conference, with a separate digital certificate attainable for each day that you attend. These can be accessed at the end of the day after the completion of a short feedback questionnaire on the programme panel for each day. Each certificate can be downloaded or printed as you wish, and can be viewed through your online profile on the conference website.

Sponsors and supporters

The sponsors for the 2021 OV Conference are PetAir UK, ISVPS and CABI, and Veterinary Practice is proud to be the event’s official media partner. Mission Rabies and World Horse Welfare are official charity supporters of this year’s event.

PetAir is a company owned and run by vets, offering a safe pet travel solution to any international destination. Their veterinary team are trained to help pet owners, pets and vets correctly export their pets.

ISVPS is an organisation dedicated to providing the entire veterinary team with high quality, achievable qualifications that are recognised worldwide and work closely with Improve International.

CABI is an international, inter-governmental, not-for-profit organisation that improves people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.

More information about the programme, tickets or answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the OV Conference website.

If you are looking for corporate and multiple bookings discounts or if you are a student and want to attend, you can contact the OV Conference using the contact page on the website.

Veterinary Practice

Veterinary Practice is an online knowledge and information hub for veterinary professionals across all specialties. It provides reliable, useful and interesting content, written by expert authors and covering small animal, large animal, equine and practice management sectors of the veterinary surgeon and nursing professions.

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