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Paddy Gordon


Candidate 5 of 14

Proposers: Andrew Curwen, Dr Rachel Marshall

Contact details

T 01791 341 761
M 07967 364 277
E [email protected]

Candidate biography

Paddy Gordon, 2024 RCVS Council election candidate After qualifying (Cambridge 1991) I spent two years in mixed practice, then committed to farm animal with an RVC Residency. I learnt much from senior colleagues, gaining my RCVS Certificate. I eventually settled in Somerset and bought into a mixed independent practice, Shepton Vets in 2001. For 23 years I have juggled commitments of farm clinical work and practice ownership. The practice has grown and changed in many ways, and a highlight has been centenary celebrations with staff, clients and community. I now work part-time and in 2024 will pass ownership to my colleagues, continuing in a clinical role.

I have been fortunate to have had support in my development from novice (no farming background) to senior vet. I have also looked to support the profession throughout my career, sitting on BCVA Committee (widening delivery of education) for six years and delivering CPD with BCVA and the RVC. Work as dairy standards advisor to Tesco and as Director of Farmcare West (Government work quality and delivery) have taught me the importance of clear objectives, organisation and communication.

Married, now with 3 adult children, built own house completing in 2020; Labrador, cat, rare breed sheep. Interests include Bath Rugby, Glastonbury Festival.

Candidate statement

Retention issues concern me greatly. They indicate a mismatch between requirements and new graduate ability and expectations. This is damaging to us all and needs to be resolved. I am standing for RCVS Council to help address how we effectively bridge the gap between student and new graduate.

Recent EMS developments have potential but need commitment from many stakeholders to achieve intended outcomes. A base practice and named contact are steps in the right direction as both parties commit to a longer relationship. Continuity should deliver more support, wider experience and understanding. The named contact should act as mentor giving guidance on education goals and personal support. There is much to do by all to implement. For a start, practitioners require training on mentoring and placement objectives. Students will need to be highly organised to commit to several years at one centre. I also have real concerns about the reduced EMS commitment of 30 weeks. This has the potential to reduce clinical experience. Students and practices will need to be clear on EMS objectives to make the most from every placement. I wrote to the Veterinary Record raising my concerns and think reducing only preclinical EMS would minimise impacts.

Having been in practice for over 30 years as vet, owner and employer I know the roles are demanding but rewarding. We can all contribute support for the next generation, as others supported me. I devised a preclinical EMS opportunity on a large dairy that provides placements to 55 students annually. In 2023 I relaunched Farm Vet of the Future competition for final year vet students. As a practice we provide rotations for up to 5 students per week. If elected I will work hard to help bridge the gap, address the retention issue and support practice and the profession.

Candidate answers to questions from the profession


Governance was clearly the most important issue for vets. In my opinion we need to vote for a democratically elected Council that has broad representation of the membership, which ensures the RCVS is by the profession and acts for the profession – its reputation and advancement.

As a profession we do need to demonstrate our impartiality and have oversight, particularly on complaints and disciplinary matters, and appointed lay members make a crucial contribution.

Whilst a number of regulatory bodies have moved towards non-elected representation,  I strongly believe that an elected RCVS Council has the best opportunity to lead and manage its’ own affairs effectively. I am keen that at the very least there is open and robust debate within the profession about the merits of various options related to updating and modernising Council.

If elected I want to see an RCVS that is acting for animals, the public and the profession, achieved by the professionalism of its elected representatives on Council.

Practice standards are set for review in 2025 and I have this firmly in my sights. Current requirements are onerous as compliance is necessary in all aspects. My wide experience with farm assurance schemes has given me a good understanding of creating and delivering such schemes and it’s clear that good schemes look to focus more on outcome measures. I would start with student engagement and antimicrobial governance and welcome all ideas, but most of all need your vote.

Veterinary education 

It is my strong view that education has the potential to address retention and workplace stress, but most of all deliver for new entrants to the profession, who will have made a large personal commitment to becoming a vet. On education, the RCVS sets policy, schools deliver, practices participate and students receive. With most graduates entering first opinion practice, most important is that they are well prepared for day one.

RCVS policy requires 70% of clinical teaching to be in first opinion practice. I want to see this delivered and reported by schools. I also want to see increased case based learning and students having every opportunity to practice the decision making and communication skills necessary as a first opinion vet.

EMS makes a vital contribution  as it delivers 20% of clinical teaching. I was disappointed the RCVS chose to reduce EMS requirements. To make the most of EMS students need a longer placement and relationship with a practice with a practice mentor. While a base practice is RCVS policy this is currently not well communicated. Discussion with students and recent graduates has indicated the benefits of longer placements.

Schools and the RCVS should also be helping practitioners with teaching techniques. I have learned much from our practice partnerships with vet schools and this could be rolled out more widely.

Finally pre-clinical EMS is essential for students to learn animal behaviour and handling skills, with time in an animal keepers workplace time well spent. If elected to Council I want to work hard to bridge the gap between student and vet, using my 30 years practice experience.