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Steven Howard


Steven Howard, RCVS Council 2023 election candidate Candidate 6 of 10

Proposers: Richard Hooker, Dr Sean Wensley

Address and contact details

PDSA, Whitechapel Way, Priorslee, Telford, Shropshire TF2 9PQ

M 07768 647 791


Candidate biography

I qualified from Glasgow University Veterinary School in 1994 and spent my first few years in private mixed and then small Animal practice, I joined PDSA in 1999 as a veterinary surgeon in our Sheffield Pet Hospital, then moved to the role of senior vet at our Swansea Pet hospital, leading that busy charitable practice. In 2009 I moved into my current role as Head of clinical services at PDSA, in this role I am responsible for professional standards and compliance, service definition and quality improvement, utilising clinical governance frameworks, promoting and raising awareness of pragmatism

I am passionate about our profession and the amazing progress that can be made when we come together as a profession to collaborate, work through issues and speak with a common voice. I played a leading role in the formation and establishment of the Association of Charity Vets (ACV), Major Employers Group (current chair) and most recently RUMA Companion Animal and Equine (RUMA CA&E - secretary general).

In my spare time I am a husband and father of two, when not being a taxi service for them I enjoy motorcycling, dog walking, attempting DIY in our family home and reading.

Candidate statement 

We are all living in difficult times, within our profession there are pressures on veterinary practices, individual vets, pet owners and animal keepers that have been building for several years. One of the greatest challenges to our profession over the next few years will be to cope and adapt to these pressures, whilst maintaining the incredibly high standards of animal welfare of which we are rightly so proud in the UK.

I am a keen advocate for accessibility and affordability of veterinary care in the UK and I feel that my position in the UK’s largest veterinary charity, delivering first opinion quality veterinary care, enables me to provide some unique and evidence-based perspectives into RCVS council. I feel this is particularly important given the economic position in which we find ourselves in here in the UK. I feel we need to ensure that pet ownership, which has so many benefits for society and individuals, does not become accessible to only the privileged.

The concept of contextualised care is starting to gain traction within the profession, I firmly believe that well delivered contextualised care can give good welfare outcomes, help to protect the wellbeing of veterinary professionals, increased job satisfaction and retention, ensure that veterinary care is affordable for our clients, promotes client bonding, trust and value perceptions and can help to keep clients and their pets together for longer. This is important in both the charitable and private sectors where financial constraints are increasingly influencing treatment options and choices.

These are all factors that I feel particularly strongly about and, if elected, I will strive to ensure that in my time on council they remain the key the drivers for my input, influence, and activities as an RCVS council member.

Questions from the professions and the candidate's answers 

  • How can we encourage more women to be candidates for the Council, especially given that most of the profession are female and should be represented better? 

I think it’s a shame that there isn’t a more gender representative proportion of candidates for council this year, or for that matter more diverse in general. We have seen some fantastic and inspiring women in leading roles in the veterinary profession in the past few years - RCVS, BVA and BSAVA presidents just as examples. The limited number of candidates that put themselves forward, and the unrepresentative range of gender and ethnic diversity, suggests a general lack of awareness that the opportunity to help shape and progress the veterinary professions is open to all. I suggest that there is work to be done in promoting participation from right across the profession, which would increase the diversity of candidates available to be voted for. There is also work to be done with employers, who could be pro-active in encouraging team members to put themselves forward and reassure of their support.

  • How would you ensure that the varied backgrounds and professional opinions of vets in general practice and varied referral roles are understood/appreciated on council, when deciding and discussing topics, if such a body is/happens to not (be) represented in the make-up or background of actual council members?

I feel it is essential that the range of views, evidence and opinions of stakeholders are considered appropriately; a council with diverse skills and knowledge, and members who are open and approachable (which I fully intend to be) can certainly contribute to this. Where there are subject matters not in my area of expertise, I will reach out to gain further knowledge and insight to help shape thinking, enable meaningful contribution to any debate and influence the right outcomes. Raise awareness that there is an opportunity for any registered professional to have their views heard, both in responding to consultations and in other ways e.g. throughout the pandemic I regularly submitted data, updates and opinion to RCVS Council and Committees on PDSA services during the crisis and how RCVS decisions were impacting upon charitable care – even though they didn’t ask for them! – they were all put forward.