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Richard Brown


Candidate 4 of 14

Proposers: Dr Steven Benton, Dr Barry Bousfield

Contact details

T 01466 794 343
M 07856 679 112
E [email protected]

Candidate biography

Richard Brown, 2024 RCVS Council election candidate In 1981 I graduated from Cambridge. For over 20 years I worked in rural practice in Scotland acting as locum, LVI, assistant, partner and finally principal. I was President of the local BVA for one year. I first met my wife, a lawyer, calving one of her father’s Charolais X cows. We have a son, daughter and two granddaughters. After obtaining an MSc from Edinburgh I worked for the governments of Belize, and Hong Kong, and latterly The City University of Hong Kong with key emphasis in establishing the first veterinary degree course in Hong Kong. My work also covered, investigative laboratory, BSL3, meat inspection, research, regulatory, primary clinical, acting Senior Veterinary Officer, Import control, surgery, and lecturing. Research included creating a canine distemper test, bovine haptoglobins, immunocontraception in cattle, bovine vitamin A levels, 3D printing of the skeleton of an Omura’s whale, co discovering a rare new condition of cats ‘Robotic cats, and using practice accounts to analyse farmer behaviour. Non research publications include articles for Veterinary Times, Letters in the Veterinary Record, In Practice Everyday Ethics and co-authoring the Veterinary Bulletin of the Hong Kong government. My hobbies include photography, classical music and the outdoors.

Candidate manifesto

Forty years ago I had no idea of the fun, the highs, the lows, the sense of satisfaction and the occasional sadnesses that veterinary work would bring. Nor did I realise that at times it would extend me well beyond my limits requiring the support of family, friends and health professionals.

It is therefore with a sense of gratitude that I aim to serve the Council giving independent, neutral, objective and empathetic opinions and service.

In recent decades my view is that the profession has missed opportunities by:

  1. Prioritising specialities over general practice
  2. Prioritising financial performance over economic performance.
  3. Prioritising a veterinary calling over the calling to live a balanced life.

My assessment is that primary care should have the highest status within the profession. To satisfy diversity aims we should try to recruit adequately intelligent students from all backgrounds who possess non academic talents and competencies highly relevant to practice.

The number of lecturers at veterinary schools with 10 years or more experience in primary care should be increased dramatically.

We should consider bolstering Veterinary Ethics CPD. In my experience using ethics as a tool for clinical decision making will bring peace of mind.

I have always supported Vetlife, considering its work on mental health issues vital. Issues such as being willing without fear to meet and talk to health professionals, learning techniques such as mindfulness, relevant physical activities are in my view important. Achieving a balanced life style is a useful buffer against the significant stresses of practice.

Lastly, on a personal note, our current pet is a rescue Chocolate Labrador. Her distinctive behaviour reminds me on a daily basis not to take myself too seriously and to always maintain a sense of humour.

Candidate answers to questions from the profession

If you were on Council when the vote to abolish elections was put, how would you have voted? 

If I had been on Council I would not have voted to abolish elections. My reasoning is explained in full in my Veterinary Times article ‘Rethinking Council Structure’ February 6th 2024 pp12. In essence it boils down to the opinion of Sir Winston Churchill that the ballot is ‘the best of the worst’ methods. There is no perfect selection procedure. However, I see no reason in not extending the electorate if there was a demand and agreement. For example, if a strong case can be made that practicing and qualified veterinary nurses should vote I would not argue against that. Some may say it might bring in more objectivity. In addition re the current appointed positions: I suggest we increase the number of appointed or selected members from the Universities from three to four. The council has responsibilities for education and we need direct, clear and frank discussions with the increasing number of veterinary schools. Undoubtedly there has to be a discussion and negotiation about the nature, soundness, depth and validity of the ‘day one competencies’ achieved by the students  graduating from the schools and how applicable this is to current general practice. This can only be achieved if the Universities are present on council.

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 most important challenge to our profession is to re establish primary care general practice as the priority of the profession. We need to restate that practitioners work at the apex of the profession : they work at the summit. They are working in real time, first to be facing the client and utilising a vast range of unrelated skills to produce rapid results. Their overall work load based on case numbers, client communications, animals cured, and field animal welfare issues resolved is far more important than that of specialists. This is not to deny specialists have a role, undoubtedly they do, particularly for cases where money is available - the complexities justify it and the equipment not present in a practice. Bearing in mind owners nowadays have, on average, less resources and the overall percentage of insured animals is low, it is vital for animal welfare that more cases are retained within the general practice workload. My skills gained working within foreign governments should help me to work with like minds to negotiate, with determination and persistence, to achieve the goal of reprioritising primary care general practice. In addition, working for over 20 years in UK general practice, and principal for over 5 years has taught me days can be challenging but practice can be very fulfilling and rewarding. Therefore, we as a profession should aim to make general practice the best area of the profession to work in.