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Dr Peter Higgins


Candidate 7 of 14

Proposers: Dr Andrea Lynch, Dr Craig Pullen

Peter Higgins, 2024 RCVS Council election candidateContact details

M 07951 076 899

E [email protected]


Candidate biography

For those that don’t know me; professionally I am a practising veterinary surgeon with over 30 years of experience. I have also worked either casually, part time, or full time at The University of Sydney (Faculty of Veterinary Science) and for a short period I was Associate Dean.

I have an interest in wildlife medicine, surgery, and conservation, and acted in an advisory capacity for Sydney’s Taronga Zoo. Currently, I am a Trustee for ZSL and Chair the Animal Welfare and Zoo Ethics Committee.

Animal welfare has always been a special interest for me, and I have been a member and representative of the Universities Federation of Animal Welfare, as well as serving on the board of the Veterinary Institute of Animal Ethics, the Australian Veterinary Association’s Animal Welfare Committee, and the Animal Welfare Committee for the Faculty of Veterinary Science.

I acquired an MBA early in my career and worked in industry and government as well as leading a major communications initiative for the AVA. I am a Fellow of the Institute of Company Directors. Currently, I Chair the BSAVA Audit and Risk Committee.

I relocated to the UK four years ago and this is now my permanent home.

Candidate statement 

I have a vision for the future of our profession and ask for your support. I have a unique set of qualifications, and experience, which combine veterinary science, innovation, communications training, and organisational leadership.

I am a practising veterinary surgeon of over 30 years. In that time, I have not seen our profession in as much turmoil as it is now. Internally, we are stressed both individually and collectively, and externally we are being tested and challenged from every direction we face.

I honestly believe my experience and skills can help our profession navigate the difficult waters of the next few years. I would like to be given a chance to prove this.

As well as my veterinary and scientific background I am also an experienced company director and serve on boards and foundations. I get governance, but this must be translated to external communications and observable results.

My chaired committees include; Corporate Partnership, Communications, Risk, Future Planning, and Animal Welfare... as well as Chair of the Board and President of diverse organisations.

My experience and skills to serve on council include; Leading and managing teams. Innovative thinking. Financial accountability. Serving on corporate, society, university, and professional boards and committees – and producing results.

I have qualifications in marketing and communications. I understand the workings of government and contributed to the input into the new Animal Welfare Act, Animal Sentience Act, and Kept Animals bill.

I am an innovative communicator, working in the media for over 30 years. I have proven I can diplomatically communicate priorities to all people from paddock to parliament, achieving timely, positive outcomes. I can work autonomously, and in teams.

I know (and love) this profession! I know our challenges! I offer myself to serve the RCVS, and our profession, and I hope you support me.

Candidate answers to questions from the profession

What do you believe is the single most important challenge for the profession in the next decade and what skills and experience will you contribute to Council to assist in resolving this problem?

The single biggest issue for our profession is causal to the other problems we are experiencing.  A shortage of practising first opinion vets.  This results in overwork, poor job satisfaction, mental health impacts, client complaints, and eventually leaving the profession… and so it becomes a vicious circle.

We need to review extra mural training so that it is more reflective of day one competencies in a very practical sense.  The so called ‘soft skills’ must be given more importance in the veterinary curriculum both on campus and extramurally.

I was previously responsible for the building and delivery of student work experience requirements, and there is shared learning from overseas.

One initiative that has proven to be successful, is a mentoring program for students AND new grads.  This is a managed program where a mentor is paired to a mentee and helps with advice and direction. 

We also need a communications program aimed at the public.  We must be on the front foot explaining veterinary shortages, quality of work, and value for money.  Expectations of what vets can do (and what can’t be done) should be a national campaign.

I am a first opinion vet, and always have been (I’m a generalist), so I understand the pressures of practice.  Coupled with that I have worked in the media for almost as long as being a vet.  I understand communication strategy, and delivery from both sides of the camera. 

My door will always be open to colleagues both literally and figuratively. 

Given the diverse range of veterinary roles, is it possible to have “one size fits all” regulation of our profession?

Our profession has always been a kaleidoscope of skills and different jobs. 

First opinion practice can vary from production animals, to horses, exotics, wildlife, and of course dogs and cats.  We are also developing more specialists.  Veterinarians also work outside of clinical practice eg in an advisory capacity.  Our profession is moving towards a bigger and brighter kaleidoscope.  This needs to be planned for, and strategies developed so that we are not caught by surprise.

A new Veterinary Surgeons Act is one of the best ways to plan for the changes in our profession.  The new Act must include vet nurses.  Nurses need a stronger, legal positioning.  Importantly, a new Act needs to protect practising Veterinary Surgeons more than current legislature. 

As well as the changing face of our profession, there is also the changing face of populations in both city and rural areas.  Expectations must be managed better.  Animal welfare is, and must be, our continued focus, and this is the primary goal of the Veterinary Surgeons Act, but there needs to be a level of protection for practising vets. 

Moving forward, the RCVS must have constant dialogue with veterinary practitioners in regions all over the United Kingdom.  As a result of these meetings regular planning sessions with Westminster can occur. 

I believe one size can fit all… but we need exemplary communication both within and outside of the profession.  We must have robust, evidential thinking, and leadership with lawmakers.  I know I can help lead this process.