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Penelope Morgan


Candidate 10 of 14

Proposers: Dr Catherine Burke, Richard Saunders

Contact details 

M 07737 770 220
E [email protected]

Candidate biography

Penelope Morgan, 2024 RCVS Council election candidateI've been a practicing vet for the past 23 years since qualifying from Bristol in 2001. After a short time as a DEFRA vet during the Foot and Mouth outbreak of that year, I was in mixed practice, working as a locum and then as an emergency OOHs vet across South Wales and the South West. For the past 15 years I have worked in Charity practice in Bristol, initially full time but part time after having children and now work in a hybrid way of being still clinical for part of the week and in a diversified admin role for the rest of the week. I have taken on a number of volunteer roles over the last 10 years in community and health areas, I have been a member of the public involvement strategy group National Institute for Health and Care Research, and I currently chair a Community Anchor Organisation (CAO) tackling local health priorities and community engagement with funding decision making. I enjoy many things including Swimming. During Covid I stated swimming in local open water and have worked with local government and water companies to address the sewage pollution risks since.

Candidate statement

The Veterinary profession is facing a number of challenges not least that the continued desire to improve clinical standards is potentially becoming unaffordable for many experiencing a cost of living squeeze, social media hostility towards the profession and the political and economic reality of having left the EU.

I have experienced teleconsulting, working OOHs covering a large area and number of practices as the sole vet and developing ways to facilitate shared decision making with owners when facing challenging choices.

My desire is to ensure we give better clarity on good enough not just better and best as the way to ensure the best welfare outcomes for all animals under our care.

I would like to bring my experience in building engagement both from within the veterinary world when I have been elected as staff representative, but also in my volunteer roles where I have worked to develop strategies and approaches to tackle local human health priorities as park of integrated health partnerships by community engagement and empowerment.

I have been following and watching what I can learn from NHS colleagues about how we have to recognise we are Human with factors effecting outcomes that are wider than just building knowledge and skills.

I am standing as after a dear friend said at London Vet Show “You can't just wait for someone else to be the voice you are worried may be missing, the only way to know there is that choice, is to stand, so there is at least one vet from those experiences."

Candidate answers to questions from the profession

How do you think we should tackle the shortage of veterinary staff within the profession?

People have different needs at different stages of their career, expectations change over time, and generational differences alter prevailing narratives and motivations around work.

Sweeping assumptions about each generational challenge, are not helping progressive discussions. We do need to recognise, there was a previous model where we trained, worked and then retired, which is no longer an achievable single narrative in many careers. 

This is not a specific issue to a single gender or background, future careers will need to be adaptable to working for longer, in different ways, at different stages of our working lives.

Diversifying, returning, developing, specialising, sideways steps, hybrid roles, flexing around caring commitments, achieving sustainable personal levels of working and all alongside maintaining productivity is no longer a linear path. Needing multiple pathways has demonstratable value impact on recruitment and retention.

How as a profession we build such journeys into the workplace may depend on how we view ourselves, valuing such a varied range of options, opportunities and skills  for our veterinary careers.

The NHS is facing similar challenges. The recent Nuffield trust summit showed we are not alone in being a profession with a very leaky staffing bucket, I personally feel we need to look at some of the leaks, as well as trying to just keep topping up. To do this by building the psychological wellbeing of competency, belonging, and autonomy. We need to feel safe and valued as part of this profession.

The general public have little understanding of the pressures that exist in veterinary practice today. Yet we regularly see in the media, that the NHS is struggling and under pressure. The two services of course have their similarities and differences. Do you believe the general public knowledge of the situation should be improved, or should we continue to mask it?

I teach final year vet students on their clinical rotations, they come with great communication, touch typing skills, enthusiasm and professionalism. I try to build in opportunities to talk about some of the biggest challenges they will face, that of managing uncertainties and risk in a modern digital world.  We talk about ways to manage no win situations. Cleverer people than me call them Schwartz rounds. Schwartz rounds being a format for shared reflecting on  emotional processing for challenging experiences..

Many in the NHS would not wish the media scrutiny on another profession, staff who have wanted to whistle blow about dangerous situations have reported negative personal consequences. GPs especially have face negative public opinion and media stories in recent months.

Those who have been through the worst of social media’s inhumanity to others, consider these landscapes hard places to have nuanced, empathetic, discussions with the wider public. 

Engaging public awareness of service pressures is possible, and one area  organisations such as  health care systems or policing has engaged, is to add  co-design with the public when tackling and looking to overcome issues.

Having been part of patient and public involvement groups, and having personally built community based solutions to issues such as loneliness, cost of living and health inequality, the creation of empathy by working directly with the public with lived experience, is far more effective than engaging through the media.