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Key decisions of June 2011 Council meeting

3 June 2011

RCVS Council met on 2 June, under the chairmanship of President Peter Jinman: it was his last meeting in the chair. The minutes of the meeting will be available in due course, but in the meantime, read on for a brief summary of some of the key decisions.

RCVS Council meeting in progress

Further detail on some of the decisions made, and their impact, will be found in the June issue of RCVS News.

Budget approval: fees frozen

The budget for 2012 was approved. This included a recommendation that all registration and retention fees should not increase for 2012 – for both veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses. This follows on from the Council’s decisions last year that fees for 2011 should increase less than inflation, and is intended to help mitigate the impact of the difficult economic climate on veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses. Members who are over 70 years old and who cease practising do not have to pay fees if they wish to remain on the Register.

The RCVS financial policy remains that fee increases should be small and incremental in order to avoid a need for periodic sharp fee hikes resulting from inflationary pressures.

Nottingham recommended for approval

Following a very positive evaluation by a visitation team chaired by Professor Lance Lanyon, Council recommended the approval of The University of Nottingham’s veterinary degree to the Privy Council. This is the first UK veterinary degree to be recommended for approval by the College for over 50 years. The hard work of the University was praised by the President, and Foundation Dean Professor Gary England in turn was grateful for the guidance and support of the College.

Approval of PPE certificates

In adopting the report of the Advisory Committee, Council approved a new equine pre-purchase examination (PPE) certificate, which had been produced by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). The new certificate, and associated guidance, will be unveiled by BEVA on 8 September 2011, the first day of its Congress in Liverpool, and the old PPE certificate will then be phased out over a six-month period. From this date, the revised certificate will be available from the Veterinary Defence Society and the guidance notes will be available from BEVA.

Notices of motion

Two notices of motion were laid. The first, proposed by Professor Sheila Crispin and seconded by Beverley Cottrell, considered the process for the introduction of the recent rebranding, in the context of how decisions are made by Council. It fell into two parts. The first requested that all important decisions are made by Council in a public meeting. It was discussed that, given there are only three Council meetings a year (March, June and November), and that convening additional Council meetings would cost approximately £24,000 a time, the sentiment of the motion might be met by requesting that all important decisions are made by Council. This allows for decisions to be made between meetings, electronically or otherwise. This part of the motion was carried as amended.

The second part of the motion requested that the Disciplinary Committee be allowed to continue to use the College coat of arms on its documentation. The designation of the coat of arms was discussed, with some feeling that it ought properly only to be used in relation to Charter activities (such as postgraduate education) rather than activities carried out under statute; others felt it lent the gravitas that was appropriate to the Disciplinary Committee. Professor Crispin cast some doubt over the robustness of the research carried out in order to establish an evidence base for the change in corporate identity but, equally, comments were made about the importance of taking proper account of professional advice that had been sought, and paid for, by the College.

Given that wheels are in motion to make Disciplinary Committee (and Preliminary Investigation Committee) more independent, an amendment was proposed by past-President Jill Nute that the issue be deferred and reconsidered as part of the future positioning and identity of the re-constituted Committees, and perhaps as part of a wider discussion about the use of the coat of arms. This was agreed by Council on a vote.

The second, somewhat related, motion was proposed by Bob Partridge and seconded by Col Neil Smith, and requested a ‘Management Structure Working Party’ be set up to assess the current senior management of the College and the decision-making process, and make recommendations to Council. In discussion, the point was raised that the President had already tasked a small team of past Presidents to look at similar issues, and that the group’s report was awaited. He proposed that lay members Judith Webb and Richard Davis be co-opted to this group, to add an important external point of view. This was agreed by Council. 

The President acknowledged the importance of proper decision-making processes being in place, a view backed up by many who spoke during the debate, and assured Council members that appropriate changes would be made on the advice of the group. On this basis, the motion was withdrawn by Mr Partridge on the understanding that an explanation of, and, if appropriate, apology for, the overspend in relation to the Lower Ground Floor building works and the database implementation would be given to members in due course.

Appreciation for retiring members

On behalf of Council, President Peter Jinman thanked retiring Council members Roger Eddy and Alison Bruce.

An elected veterinary member of Council since 1991, Roger Eddy has served on all of the College committees and chaired many of them. He was College President from 2000-1, not an easy time, as it coincided with the foot and mouth crisis. Peter Jinman said that Council and the profession owed Mr Eddy ‘a huge debt’.

Meanwhile, lay member Alison Bruce has served as a member appointed by the University of Glasgow since 2002. A valued Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee, she has brought an important external perspective to Council business, and the President thanked her for all of her hard work.

Finally, past-President Dr Barry Johnson thanked the President for his hard work on behalf of the profession and his ‘sure-footed’ leadership of the Council during his year in Office.

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