I have been meaning to start a blog for ages but thought that this week was as good a time as any to share my thoughts with everyone. It’s not, however, going to be all doom and gloom, because despite the awfulness of COVID-19 there are so many amazing positive stories we’re hearing about which I will share over the next few weeks - and of course if you want to share anything with us, please shout out.
Last week was pretty manic and so full of mixed emotions, but crumbs this week has been even more of a crazy roller coaster!
Our Congress next week would have been our 63rd and our last in Birmingham, and I will go down in history as the only BSAVA President never to have a Congress. Disappointing because we had so much cool stuff planned. Apart from another exceptional programme masterminded by our volunteers, I had managed to convince our Audit and Risk Committee that we should host Bongo’s Bingo as part of our social programme, a real departure from the usual Party night standards but time, I thought, to break the mould. Having virtually sold out of tickets for this year, before cancellation 3 weeks out, it will return next year - although I haven’t broken that news to Professor Ramsey yet – whose Congress it will be next year!
After making the decision last Friday to cancel Congress, this week has been taken up operationally by working out the mechanics around refunds for delegates and exhibitors and organising remote working for Woodrow House staff to safeguard their health. Whilst the majority of our executive are low-risk, like the rest of us, many have contact with someone who is in the high-risk categories, so the skeleton staff at BSAVA HQ are those who are low risk and have volunteered to hold the fort, whilst as normal service as possible is maintained, with remote working.
Our Congress Programme Planning Committee, made up of practicing first opinion and referral vets and nurses, has spent the week sifting through the Congress programme to we can start to capture as many of the lectures as possible. We want to create our own “Congress on Demand”, which we know is not quite the same as the face to face lectures, but we recognise so many people are dependent on Congress for their CPD. We will aim to ensure everyone (vets and nurses) will have enough CPD to fill their RCVS requirements with the recorded material we will supply. We are hoping to start making material available in early April.
BSAVA have also been helping to mobilise veterinary support for our medical colleagues as part of the COVID-19 response. Despite attempts to try to flatten the “infection curve”, we know the NHS is stretched, particularly in the South East where there are huge numbers of cases. We have been absolutely blown away by the generosity and thoughtfulness of the countless members of the professions who have made contact with local hospitals or us to offer support and equipment, particularly ventilators which we know can make a huge difference to those with severe disease. If you haven’t already seen the news shots, check out the various veterinary social media channels as there will be a questionnaire and contact details for those that want to help. It makes me incredibly proud to be a member of the veterinary profession at a time like this.