Blog 2 from BSAVA President Sue Paterson
It is only a few days since my last blog but so much has happened over the weekend it seems like a lifetime.
Over the last 72 hours massive efforts have been put in by the Associations, especially AVA with BSAVA and RCVS to mobilise ventilators from veterinary facilities to go to NHS hospitals. Whilst the total numbers of veterinary ventilators are undoubtedly small, if it helps to save just a few lives then it will have been worth it. The quiet efficiency shown by the amazing AVA vets to work first with their medical colleagues to produce a questionnaire checking availability and suitability of equipment, and then arranging transfer of machines to hospital facilities has been incredible. It has been a herculean veterinary effort involving all of the Vet Schools, Referral Hospitals and numerous Primary Care Clinics across the UK. If anyone still has a ventilator they would like to “donate” you can contact the Defra External Affairs Team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
However, as I sit here typing my second blog, I reflect on what has been the most incredible of days. I suspect after the packed beaches and heaving parks in the glorious spring sunshine at the weekend, no one was surprised about the new measures introduced by the government last night, but it still left most of us, I am sure, with a surreal feeling of bewilderment and somewhat numb.
As many now switch to remote working, it leaves the veterinary profession in a unique and challenging position. The role for the veterinary surgeons entrusted with maintaining the food chain and classified as key professional is well defined, they are essential to the economy and, whilst being mindful of the risks of coronavirus, they must carry on as best they can. For the small animal and equine vets, it is now a tightrope-walk between the essential task of personal and family safety, maintenance of animal welfare and trying to support the practice and colleagues working within it.
As BVA and RCVS beat upon the doors of No 10 to get some degree of clarity around the situation for companion animal vets, the RCVS have made it very clear that in these exceptional circumstances veterinary surgeons should try to do the best they can. However, they fully accept that the challenges of being short-staffed, having to reduce services and close premise, whilst trying to maintain animal welfare at arm’s length, mean that it can never be business as usual. RCVS have promised that guidance will be flexible as long as everyone works in the best interests of the animal’s under their care, within the confines of coronavirus advice and limitations.
The RCVS website has a list of FAQ which are updated daily and can help answer many questions, or vets can contact the relevant advice team at the RCVS 020 72222001.
Here at BSAVA, although all our staff are now home based, we will also do our best to help either with direct advice, or by sign-posting to the most appropriate source. The best way to reach us at this time is to email us on email@example.com.