2016 May - President's report

It has been eight months since the current Board was installed.  The Board has an outstanding balance of experience and fresh blood, and it has been a particular pleasure to get to know the new members of the Board.  The consistent characteristics of Board members that I have observed over my three terms with the Board have been their experience, and wisdom, as well as their commitment to good governance and the legal framework under which the Board operates.  The consistency of these characteristics among the current and historic members of the Board imparts a sense of continuity to the work of the Board, and for me personally, provides a sense of “belonging” to this team.

As part of the responsibilities of the President I have just sat on the workplace reviews of the 5 staff of the office of the Board.  This has focussed my attention on the nature of their work, and has brought into sharp relief the critical nature of that work.  The small, hard-working team at the office provide the “action” to each of the Board’s decisions, as well as providing the interface for the profession to interact with the Board.  They match the commitment of the Board members to the main pillars of the Board’s role:  to ensure the best possible outcomes for animal welfare and the public.  I don’t think I am overstating the case to say they also have a genuine affection for the role of the profession, and their passion for the work they do ensures those best possible outcomes.

As a practising veterinarian I was largely ignorant of the large part of the work that the Veterinary Practitioners Board did, except at those rare points of intersection, such as registration, hospital licensing and annual renewal of each!  When I now look back on my professional life before I became involved with the Board I wish that I HAD taken the time to be more aware of its resources and actions. 

One of the most useful (and conveniently most easy to digest) resources that the Board uses to guide it through many issues and complaints is the Veterinary Practitioners Code of Professional Conduct.  The Code plays such a foundational role in the decisions of the Board that I highly recommend every veterinary practitioner working in New South Wales become intimately familiar with it.  I know that there are several articles in the current Boardtalk that draw their ultimate take-home message from the Code.  Equally, many articles from Boardtalk provide examples of how the Board has interpreted this Code.

One of the roles of the President of the Board is to represent the Board on the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC).  The AVBC was established to allow the nine member boards from Australia and New Zealand to discuss areas of mutual interest and policy development, to provide a framework for public and industry confidence in veterinary standards, and to assure and promote veterinary educational standards. While the actions of the AVBC sometimes seem remote to the circumstances of veterinarians in practice, it plays a critical role for the profession in Australia and New Zealand. Each registrant in NSW pays approximately $26 per year to ensure minimum standards are reached by new graduates, the universities who teach them, those wishing to be registered as specialists in Australia and New Zealand, and, through the National Veterinary Exam, those overseas graduates who would like to work in Australia and NZ.

Board recommendations to the profession are constantly evolving as current standards change, veterinary knowledge increases or legal cases set new precedents. I would like to draw your attention to the item in this Boardtalk  titled “Personal Biosecurity”. The Board wants to alert veterinary practitioners to suggested personal biosecurity protocols drawn up by the AVA and available to all veterinarians. Perhaps you have designed your own. Rather than waiting until people are hurt or injured and blame is being cast the Board recommends every Hospital Superintendent and house call veterinarian include such protocols in their practice activities today. The Board has added this recommendation to its guidelines “Responsibilities of a Veterinary Hospital Superintendent” and its self assessment checklists.

Secondly, please carefully read the Hospital Inspector’s Report.  As Glenn has noted, the loss or theft of any drug of addiction must be reported to NSW Health.  Because of the relatively small volumes used in veterinary practice, particularly so for exotics practice, we regularly notice some ‘expected wastage’ by the end of the bottle.  Just like theft or any other loss, this loss must be reported to NSW Health.  NSW Health are aware of why this occurs but you must still report this using their online form.

I am so excited about the wealth of practical and important information that is in this edition of Boardtalk.  I hope that you all learn as much as I have from reading all the articles. 

I wish everyone happiness, peace, health and well-being.


Mark Simpson