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Dr Gerard Henry


Candidate 6 of 14

Proposers: John Ferguson, William McColl

Contact details

T 01592 748 522
M 07729 823 054
E [email protected]

Candidate biography

Gerard Henry, 2024 RCVS Council election candidate I graduated from Glasgow University in 1979. From there I went into the RAVC as VO with the Kings Troop RHA. A year in Newmarket, several years in Northumberland and then 9 years with MAFF as an SVO. I locummed for 3 years and in 1995 I put my plate up and opened my first practice in Glenrothes. In 2004 I opened my second in Edinburgh and in 2013 my third in South Queensferry. In 2018 I retired from practice. I was very pleased to be able to sell to an independent practitioner. My interests include motor racing and military history.

Candidate statement

‘There comes a point when you think, enough is enough.

Like most practitioners I’ve been too busy to involve myself with the College or with professional politics. For most of my life as a vet the RCVS didn’t really feature on my horizon. Sometimes you’d see an old friend or mentor becoming President, a worthy end to a distinguished career. Local veterinary meetings might be attended by a Council member who would apprise us, informally, of what was going on or being said in London. That was then.

In June 2022 I was disturbed to read an elected member had resigned from Council because of the imposition of a new ‘how we work’ statement, which, I believe, in essence forbad the informal exchange of information which had existed previously. This new imposed secrecy benefits neither the public nor the profession although it might make administration a bit easier for the group at the top.

I know from personal experience just how hard it is to get even basic information from ‘our’ College. A simple, innocuous question required two FOI requests (one prepared by a Barrister) to get an answer. This is unacceptable.

Not content with restricting what we are allowed to know, the College has now voted by a majority of 16 – 5, to abolish Council elections completely and move to an appointments based system. With this, I believe, any direct influence we once had within the RCVS will have gone.

It is my intention if elected, to work hard at improving information sharing in general and to resist, tooth and nail, any attempt to deprive us of our right to elect Council members. This is a fight we cannot afford to lose.’

Candidate answers to questions from the profession 

Given the shocking vote from the council to abolish RCVS elections - can you either say how strongly you feel about this and if opposed what you will do to turn this vote around or if you were on council at the time how you voted and why?

Like you I was shocked by the vote, in fact it was the principal reason I decided to stand for election. Time was the College didn’t really impact on the practising profession. Providing you kept your nose clean they didn’t bother you if you didn’t bother them. Now things are different. The College has big ideas and big ambitions, not all of them particularly well thought out. For example, I find it hard to believe a Council dominated by practitioners would have approved some of the more onerous (nonsensical) requirements surrounding prescribing. Regulation for its own sake is bad for morale and eats into the time available for patient care. It unfairly penalises smaller practices who have neither the time nor resources to devote to non-essential bureaucracy. Unfortunately, I think we are already seeing aspects of this creeping into the Practice Standards Scheme. So when practice approval/inspection becomes mandatory, it is essential that the framework has been prepared and scrutinised by an elected Council grounded in practice.  An appointments system is unlikely to produce this; despite its notional independence, it will over time create a Council that reflects the values of the selectors, not the profession. 

It is important to remember that none of this can happen unless and until we have a new VS Act. It is of the utmost importance therefore, that in every election from here on in, we select candidates who are rooted in practice and who have an absolute commitment to retaining an elected Council.

With a new VSA very much needed how do the candidates propose to take this opportunity to improve the perception of the RCVS amongst members who, like myself, feel that the RCVS allows little public discussion and because of “Cabinet Collective Responsibility” its elected members are not even allowed to express opinions outside of closed meetings?

This was the second reason I decided to stand for election. The ‘Cabinet Collective Responsibility’ thing is a complete red herring. The Executive can consider themselves a Cabinet if they like, but the Council is our House of Commons. We’re told the debates are robust, but details of what was said and by whom are sparse to non-existent. Council minutes are bone dry and heavily redacted (very familiar to those of us living in post-Sturgeon Scotland). Anything of any interest or importance is marked ‘Confidential’ and put on the too high shelf (just to keep it safe from the prying eyes of children). Search all you want, there’s almost nothing of substance concerning the decision to purchase the new, colossally expensive, headquarters building in Clerkenwell.

The RCVS’ ‘Role of Council Members (2023)’ states, 'Holders of public office should be as open and transparent as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.' Yet I know from personal experience it can take two submissions under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain even the most basic information. Council minutes need to be more informative, voting records should be published as a matter of course, confidentiality should be kept to a minimum, and a digest of Council business should be reported monthly, in reasonable detail, in a mass circulation publication such as the Vet Times.