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Posted: 10th May 2024

BVA president calls for reformed Veterinary Surgeons Act
Anna Judson encouraged delegates to put pressure on political parties.
Anna Judson said legislative changes were needed to protect the profession.

The president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has called for ‘important’ legislative changes within the veterinary industry, including a reform of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

In an address to guests at BVA’s annual Scottish Dinner in the Scottish Parliament, Anna Judson encouraged delegates to put pressure on political parties to keep the reform on the agenda.

Dr Judson said that the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 was from ‘a very different era’, and failed to acknowledge the wider veterinary team. Among the unrecognised team members were registered veterinary nurses, veterinary technicians and equine dental technicians.

She said a reformed Act could rectify issues, including the lack of legal protection over the title of ‘veterinary nurse’.

The appeal comes as John Swinney is elected Scotland’s new first minister, with Kate Forbes named as his deputy.

Present at the Scottish Dinner was Jim Fairlie MSP, who is minister for agriculture and connectivity, as well as BVA honorary member Edward Mountain MSP and other members of Scottish Parliament.

Dr Judson further addressed the efficiency of the Dangerous Dogs Act, ahead of Scotland’s full ban of XL bully-type dogs. Although she welcomed the opportunity to work with the Scottish government in the development of the ban, she also expressed her concerns that the breed-specific legislation had ‘constantly failed’ to protect people.

The BVA president instead suggested more breed-neutral legislation, which would deal with aggression in all dogs and encourage responsible dog ownership across breeds.

The speech also acknowledged the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) review of the provision of veterinary services.

Dr Judson welcomed the review as an opportunity for practices to reflect and ensure that they are providing the best possible service for patients and clients. She said that the BVA was keen to see healthy competition and informed consumer choice within the veterinary market.

However she also reflected on the impact which the review was having on the veterinary profession.

She said that inaccurate and unfair media reporting was misrepresenting veterinary professionals as ‘scammers’, who prey on pet owner’s desire to do the best for their animals. She said this had led to increased abusive behaviour from clients towards veterinary teams, both online and in-person.

Dr Judson said: “Of course, this portrayal of vets simply isn’t true and as a practising vet of more than 30 years, who knows first-hand the quality of care which vet teams deliver day in, day out, it’s painful to see our profession misrepresented in this way.

“I’m pleased to be able to stand here and tell you that BVA is tackling this issue head on, both with the media and by ensuring the veterinary profession’s perspective is fully heard and understood by the CMA.”

Image © BVA

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