Press Releases




April 24, 2017


Association lends its support to veterinary nurses by once again sponsoring

 the CAW Head Nurse Congress

VPMA is continuing its commitment to support veterinary nurses who are moving into management roles by supporting the College of Animal Welfare’s Head Nurse Congress for the second year.

Once again VPMA directors will be on hand to answer nurses’ queries about the association and practice management in general. Delegates will be asked to complete a questionnaire by VPMA about their management experiences and what topics they would like more training in, and will be entered into a prize draw for one head nurse to win a year’s membership to VPMA.

The results from last year’s survey of head nurses were used by VPMA to inform their membership strategy going forward, and a series of New to Management webinars was launched to help support VNs and new managers alike. The results from 2017’s survey of head nurses will be used for future webinars and in the development of unique resources tailored to the association’s membership.

Caroline Fordham from Kinfauns Veterinary Centre in Essex won a year’s free membership at the 2016 Head Nurse Congress. She said: “I have found the membership very useful, especially as the lunchtime webinars and New to Management webinar CPD are available on the website.

“I work full time, so this means I can watch the webinars at a time that suits me. Our practice does not have a practice manager and my responsibilities include, HR, health and safety, purchasing equipment and first-aid, so I have found the topics very relevant and beneficial to my role.”

VPMA junior vice-president Julie Beacham is also speaking at the event on the ever-popular topic of dealing with complaints. At some point, everyone in veterinary practice will have to deal with an upset client. The challenge is to handle the situation in a way that leaves the customer feeling listened to and valued, advises Julie. In fact, this is a great opportunity to turn an unhappy client into an ambassador for your practice – just by handling it in the right way, she says.

VPMA president, Renay Rickard, an RVN herself, was proud to be involved with Head Nurse Congress. She said: “We are delighted to be the sponsor for Head Nurse Congress again and are looking forward to meeting and chatting to many nurses, who, along with their clinical duties, also have management responsibilities.

“On the back of VPMA’s attendance last year, we developed the New to Management webinar series, which has been very well received. We listened to the feedback from managers with limited experience and the areas they felt least confident in. We then delivered a series of six webinars by top speakers to support those newly in management roles.

“This year, it will be great to be able to inform other nurses about the webinars and what else the VPMA can offer. The way veterinary businesses are owned and managed is changing rapidly and VPMA will be there to offer guidance and support to those who find themselves involved in practice management… and that is nearly all of us in some way or another!”

The Head Nurse Congress will be held at Whittlebury Hotel and Spa in Towcester over the weekend May 20-21. The full congress includes 12 hours of CPD.

Visit the website for details



March 21, 2017


Renay Rickard, VPMA president, armed new managers with a suite of tools to help conduct appraisals with a range of practice team members during her ‘New to Management’ webinar

Conducting appraisals causes many new managers to pale at the thought, but VPMA’s president, Renay Rickard, put minds at rest with a straightforward guide to the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of staff appraisals, during VPMA’s second New to Management webinar held on March 15.

The message was clear from the beginning: make appraisals in your practice a positive experience and something that members of the team actually look forward to instead of dread!

“In the early days, when I first started to do appraisals in my practice, it was viewed as an annual telling off! We want it to be a positive experience all round. We now have people coming to me and asking when their next appraisal is – that’s when you know you’re doing something right,” said Renay.

It’s important to make your team member feel at ease and special – this is time invested in them in a busy practice where time is pressured and not everyone always gets listened to, continued Renay. “It’s important to commit to a time you’ve set – I’ll allow a time to be cancelled once but the appraisal has to go ahead the next time. It’s a big deal for the person being appraised so make sure they feel important and that your meeting is held somewhere private and uninterrupted,” she added.

Being clear about the purpose of the appraisal and giving the reasons why you’re holding one is important for clarity and consistency among staff. Key to this, said Renay, was having a structure and procedure in place, including making your key performance criteria available to everyone – publishing them in the staff handbook in Renay’s practice.


Polls carried out during the webinar showed an interesting split between delegates in their concerns over conducting appraisals. When asked “What is your biggest challenge regarding appraisals?” the responses were as follows:

33%  “Unsure how to keep emotion out of it”

27%  “Worried about confrontation issues”

22%  “Not having a formal process in place”

16%  “Don’t have enough objective info”

2%   “The team members are senior to me or at practice longer”

When asked whether their practice had an appraisal process in place, the results showed almost one-third did not.

62% Had a process in place

31% Did not have a process in place

8 % Were not sure

The message from Renay for practices without an established appraisals process was to not be intimidated by the prospect and start one yourself. She said: “If your practice doesn’t have a review process, do start one in an informal way and do it yourself if you’re heading up a small team. Ensure that the person who does take on this task has the authority to make changes or raise issues with the bosses – there’s nothing more frustrating for staff than being promised a chat and airing their views only for it not to go any further.”

Renay shared her protocol for appraisals, which will be distributed on the accompanying slides to webinar delegates. You may still sign up now to this and other webinars in the series; visit

The next webinar in the series is entitled Difficult Team Members and Disciplinary Processes and will be delivered by Simone Taylor from Citation on April 12 at 8pm. This webinar will look at how to handle difficult team scenarios and what might be expected of you in managing a disciplinary process.

To sign up or for more information email or visit



March 6, 2017


Appraisals can trip up even experienced managers, so VPMA

is offering guidance to those with limited experience in this area in
its next New to Management webinar

Appraisals: a simple guide will be held on March 15 and is FREE to VPMA members with a small charge for non-members.

Appraisals can be a bug bear for even the most experienced of managers, but for those new to management, commonly thrown in at the deep end and asked to do them without any prior guidance, it can be more daunting than for the person being appraised!

The aim of this webinar is to help build an effective development review process that can be used for any team member. Many people dread their review as, without a good process, they often end up as a discussion of problems and have a negative impact. Noone likes an annual telling off meeting!

Speaker Renay Rickard RVN, CVPM, will give advice on how to build a personal and positive development programme for each team member that will have them coming to you to ask when their next review is.

Renay is Practice Manager at a large multisite mixed practice in Cornwall. She is also VPMA president and starting her second term. She has been in practice for 32 years, starting out as a student nurse, progressing to head nurse, and then practice manager and is now group manager for the Kernow Veterinary Group. Her passion lies in supporting teams as they grow and evolve, and helping team members develop into leadership and management roles.

The webinar will take place March 15 at 8pm. The talk will last approximately 50 mins and there will be the opportunity to ask questions. Questions may be submitted in advance by emailing

The third webinar in the series is entitled Difficult Team Members and Disciplinary Processes and will be delivered by the Citation team. The cost is £15+VAT.

To sign up or for more information email or visit



March 6, 2017


VPMA’s New to Management webinar series kicked off in style with members and non-members learning all about the dynamics of teams

The first New to Management webinar, held on February 22, attracted a broad group of practice managers, owners, veterinary nurses and client care team members, totalling more than 130.

Deborah Wylie, of consultancy People Geek, delivered the webinar, focusing on the need to be accepting of different personality profiles and being aware of how they may clash in a team situation. She suggested that prevention is better than cure when it comes to disputes between team members. The key to this, she said, was seeking to understanding more about one’s own personality before making judgements about others.

Deborah talked about different team member styles, giving examples using DiSC profiling, a personality profiling technique. Talking through DiSC, she highlighted the key descriptive words for each personality ‘type’, how each influences the response to a stressful situation, the motivations behind each ‘type’ and the value each brings to a team.

A poll was asked at the start of the webinar, “How difficult do you find it to get people working together as a team?” to which 83% of the audience answered they found it difficult. In a later poll, 21% said they found interacting with certain individuals their biggest challenge in practice.

Through further examples and her own great communication style, Deborah made it clear to the audience that understanding your preferred style and how you communicate is key to avoiding conflict and enhancing team communication.

Renay Rickard VPMA president said: “We are delighted that the first in our series of New to Management webinars saw a mix of both VPMA members and non-members as this shows we are reaching people in need of more support. There are many veterinary team members who may not have the title of manager but still have a certain degree of management responsibility and they require training to ensure that they succeed in that area.

“It is concerning, however, that 49% of attendees who answered a poll during the webinar said their biggest challenge was not having enough time. As Deborah described during her presentation, communication is affected when a person feels stress or pressure so this could partly explain why 83% find team working difficult.

“We would encourage all practice managers, owners or anyone delegating management roles to others, to ensure that sufficient time is given to fulfil these responsibilities, not only to make sure the tasks are completed, but also to allow the person who is new to management time to learn and develop in their new role.  This could make all the difference to team harmony.”

VPMA’s New to Management webinar topics were brought together after VPMA identified a need for team members with little management experience to be offered an introductory level course covering key management topics.

Nicola Wagstaff from Grahams Road Veterinary Clinic took part as a non-VPMA member as she has recently become lead receptionist. Speaking after the webinar, she said she found it very useful and the summary of DiSC helped her identify her own strengths and weaknesses.

She added: “you don’t often think of your own weaknesses, but the webinar helped me see how I can come across to others and it is definitely going to help me make changes to how I communicate.”

The next webinar in the series is entitled APPRAISALS: A SIMPLE GUIDE and will be delivered by VPMA President Renay Rickard on Wednesday March 15 at 8pm. This webinar will outline a simple structure for appraisals and highlight some dos and don’ts to make them as stress-free as possible.

To sign up or for more information email or visit


January 31, 2017


For the second year running, the Veterinary Practice Management Association (VPMA) has held a stream for management beginners at their joint congress with SPVS. The full day of workshops, took place on the first day of congress, Friday 27th January, and had nearly 60 delegates in attendance.

Organised by Board Members Helen Sanderson and Georgina Hills, and sponsored by Centaur Services, topics covered:

  • Management & Leadership: Can I do both?
  • The People Behind the Organisation: RCVS, VDS, BVNA & BVA
  • Profit and Loss: A Practical Approach
  • Introduction to KPI’s: why you need them and what to do with them (focusing on the top 5 practice KPIs and top 5 client KPIs)
  • Question Time with a Panel of Experienced Managers

Speakers over the day included practice owner and manager, Gillian Page, from Ayrton Vet Hospital, representatives from the various veterinary associations, Mark Beaney from veterinary accountants, Hazlewoods, together with Georgina Hills and Helen Sanderson. The final discussion panel, with collective management experience of about 150 years, consisted of VPMA President, Renay Rickard, Georgina and Helen, VPMA Junior Vice-President, Julie Beacham, and experienced practice manager and director, Pauline Graham, from Capontree Vets in Brampton. Discussions included how to give estimates, the best policies for obtaining payment, and, for managers new to the veterinary profession, what learnings should be prioritised.

Renay said that this networking and learning opportunity was fundamental to what the association offered,

“We recognise how isolating it can be working as a manager in practice, so the panel discussion allowed for people to ask questions that they may not have had a chance to otherwise. This sharing ethos is carried on throughout our programme of regional member meetings, taking place regularly around the country. We would encourage everyone with any management responsibilities, whether a practice manager or not, to go along to a meeting in their area and see the wealth of knowledge they can tap into.”

Veterinary surgeon, Jo Weaver, qualified 17 years ago, and was attending congress for the first time. Having recently become a clinical director of St Georges Vet Group, a large multi-site hospital practice based around Wolverhampton, she booked her place on the VPMA New to Management Stream to help with her management skills induction. Speaking afterwards Jo said,

“I found all the lectures very useful and in particular “Management and Leadership: Can I do both?”. As a clinical director, I found the clarification between leadership and management particularly enlightening and this has helped me with confidence in my new role.

“I wouldn’t have gone from vet school to practising as a vet without 5 years’ training, so management should be no different. The topics that the stream covered have all been very informative and I am looking forward to the New to Management webinar series that VPMA is offering”.

VPMA will be continuing the theme of ‘New to Management’ in a series of webinars commencing in February 2017. The 6 talks, taking place approximately fortnightly in the evening, will cover topics that new management team members find most challenging.

The topics are:

WEBINAR 1: ‘Team Work: Encouraging Harmony’
WEBINAR 2: ‘Appraisals: A Simple Guide’
WEBINAR 3: ‘Difficult Team Members and Disciplinary Processes’
WEBINAR 4: ‘Time Management’
WEBINAR 5: ‘Communication with Clients and the Public’
WEBINAR 6: ‘Complaints: How to deal with them and how to avoid them happening in the first place!’

The webinars are free to VPMA members. Non-members can book onto them at just £15+VAT each, or the whole series for a fee of £60+VAT. Further details and online booking is available at

The New to Management stream at congress was kindly sponsored by Centaur Veterinary Services

31 January 2017


Could your practice be a Best UK Vets Winner? You’re still in with a chance. Entries close at 9am on 10 Feb, and with awards for runners-up and the Top 25, there are multiple chances to be recognised!

Entry is simple: get your clients to leave a review – the more glowing the better – on or It’s that simple. You don’t even need to be a VetHelpDirect customer.

The veterinary practice with most overall 4* and 5* reviews wins the prestigious title of ‘Winner Best UK Vets 2017’. Last year’s winner, Blacks Vets in Dudley demonstrated great client engagement with the highest volume of happy people. And this year, there’s still everything to play for.

The beauty of online reviews is that they are instant. You can, with a little effort, build up a fantastic bank of reviews really quickly – after all, your loyal and bonded clients will probably want to help. So, get that client email ready to go and the reception team on hand with the iPad to start building those reviews now! You can discover lots of beautiful free email images to help you on our website.

For more top tips on getting your customers involved, get in touch with us.

So, what do I win?

As well as a round of applaws (!) from your lovely clients, and the direct benefit of word-of-mouth, the overall winning practice receives a trophy and lots of free publicity. There’s a presentation party for your practice and clients, as well as free PR to help get your story into print, radio and other media.

For our Top 25, as well as a certificate to proudly display on your wall and badges for your website and social media, there’s a template PR Kit with advice on how to spread the good news.

All the winners will be displayed on with optional badges to go on their profile listing (if you’d like one, call and ask to talk to our Directory team!)

Why Best UK Vets?

The Best UK Vets Awards are wholly based on client reviews. That’s honest, real-life opinion. Winning is such a credible endorsement of your client service and drives loyalty and trust.

Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful conversion tools you’ll find. Get your current clients saying good things about you, and you’ll win new clients directly as a result. No-one can resist a glowing review – you’ll stand head and shoulders above your competition!

Best UK Vets is run by the UK’s leading veterinary specialist internet marketing company, VetHelpDirect. We’ll harness our knowledge of SEO and all things digital and get them working for you.

How do I enter?

You don’t need to fill out any forms, or gather anything together. All you have to do is ask your clients to take a couple of minutes to leave you a review. They can go to and search for your practice from the home page. Once they’ve found you, click the button ‘Leave a review’ and they’re away!

Alternatively, if your practice isn’t on VetHelpDirect (ask us how to get a listing!), ask them to visit, find your business, and again click ‘Leave a review’.

There are quick star buttons for categories such as ‘friendliness’, ‘professionalism’, ‘respect for my animal’ and they can leave comments if they wish to. Easy!

And that’s all you have to do. We’ll do the rest and collate the entries.

So, get going now…. there’s not a moment to lose!

Closing date and results

We’ll gather all the reviews from both sites at 9am on Friday 10th Feb. We’ll announce the results as soon as we can and winners will receive their certificates, digital badges and PR kits shortly afterwards. The overall winner will be given a budget for their party and we’ll help to pull together an invite list of clients and get the PR in place. At the party, the overall winners will be presented with a trophy, certificates…and cake!

For further information visit or call 0845 4961 204.


30 January 2017

387 Vets Adds Another Award to Their Trophy Cabinet

Compassion Understood platinum-accredited practice bags SPVS Well-Being Award at congress

Following hot on the heels of their Compassion Understood highest-level accreditation award in December 2016, Walsall practice, 387 Vets, has scooped a SPVS Well-being Award in the inaugural year of the event.

Practice directors, Hamish and Rachel Duncan were presented with the Small Practice Award at the VPMA-SPVS Congress Opening Ceremony in front of over 500 delegates. The award was one of three presented in recognition of practices that encouraged happy and fulfilling workplaces. Rachel later joined a panel of the other winners, along with vet coach Carolyne Crowe, Well-being Awards founder SPVS Member Nick Stuart and BBC Radio 1 broadcaster and GP, Dr Radha Modgil.

387 Vets were singled out as winners of the Small Practice category for clinics with up to 15 staff. They were noted for their efforts in encouraging mutual appreciation within the practice, and for their use of a gratitude board where practice members could thank each other and share positive feedback from staff and clients. Rachel had also made use of her learning from one of Carolyne Crowe’s courses on personality profiling, to help her resolve team conflict around an incident.

Part of 387’s submission also referred to the training and accreditation that the practice had undergone in the Autumn of 2016 in end-of-life, from pet loss training company, Compassion Understood. 387 Vets was the second practice in the country to receive Platinum accreditation. One of their initiatives post-training has been to set up monthly EE meetings (End of Life Experience meetings) where team members can share their thoughts and experiences, helping to support each other and minimise compassion fatigue.

Compassion Understood Managing Director, Doug Muir (pictured with 387 Director Rachel Duncan and her award) said, “We are delighted for Rachel and her husband Hamish who have shown real commitment to supporting both their clients and their team. Everyone at Compassion Understood offers their congratulations and looks forward to seeing what this dynamic and caring practice will achieve next!”

Compassion Understood attended the VPMA-SPVS Congress at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, where they were on hand to discuss client attrition with practice managers and leadership teams. With losses in revenue estimated to be in the region of £55,000 over a three-year period, from client attrition post-loss, and staff attrition due to compassion fatigue*, a focus on end-of-life care will benefit the practice financially as well as making it more resilient.

The Compassion Understood Pet Loss Support Training Programme ( is designed to help practices retain clients by improving their experience at the end of their pet’s life.  The course is run through an online portal, making it easy to fit around a busy practice schedule and is designed for the whole practice team. It includes helpful practical protocols and guidance on how to handle grief and approach clients with sensitivity and compassion, giving the whole team confidence in supporting their clients during this difficult final journey. Recommendations for team self-care are also included, along with tips on preventing compassion fatigue.

Further information can be found on




 **Next available dates booking now!**

January 25, Leicester.

February 14, Stirling

March 28 Swinton

April 13 Enfield.

International Cat Care is aiming for 2017 to be the most cat-friendly year so far – so why not consider a fresh approach for the new year and get your team involved with the Developing Cattitude course.

In collaboration with International Cat Care (iCatCare) and working with Martha Cannon from The Oxford Cat Clinic, Onswitch launched Developing Cattitude in 2015, which demonstrates practical ways in which your practice can become truly cat friendly.

Set up in 2012, the Cat Friendly Clinic (CFC) programme was developed by iCatCare to further raise the standards of care and the welfare of cats – with the current UK total of CFCs being 369, cats are already receiving great clinical care in some areas. However, in a survey conducted by Onswitch on behalf of iCatCare at BVNA Congress 2015*, 94% of respondents agreed that it is important for all members of the practice to be cat-friendly, not just the clinical teams.

Maxine Briggs, MA, VetMB, MRCVS, of Elwood Briggs & Turner commented after attending the Cattitude course: “The presentation of owners’ opinions of what they thought about their vets was very surprising at times. A lot of the ideas did not involve buying expensive equipment or doing major building work, just thinking in a different way! Thank you for such an informative, friendly day on board the Beautiful Bertha Bus.”

Developing Cattitude welcomes attendees from all areas of veterinary practice to learn about both clinical and non-clinical aspects of being cat friendly.

The course is held onboard Bertha, Onswitch’s training bus, meaning that courses can be held around the country. Developing Cattitude is coming to Leicester on January 25, with other dates and locations following  throughout the UK (see top of page). For more information and to book, visit

The insightful and thought-provoking learning includes the following topics:

  • Why does Cattitude matter? What is the outcome of C-attitudes to your business?
  • The cat & customer journey – what do cat owners really think? What simple changes might you make when you listen to the owners in the focus groups?
  • Promotion, cat friendly handling and advice from Martha Cannon detailing what a cat-friendly consultation room should be equipped with will give you many action points to go home with and take to the practice the next day!

Delegates will get the following from attending the Cattitude Course:

  • Five hours’ certified CPD;
  • A clear understanding of why Cattitude matters;
  • Content written by experts;
  • A lovely pub lunch!

All for just £285 plus VAT.

More information about the course, along with booking details, can be found at

Course dates are available throughout 2017; however, if you would like to speak to the Onswitch team about other dates telephone 01476 565343 or email

JANUARY 13, 2016


Final month’s prize draw winners and expanding #VNVoice forum

Lucky veterinary nurse Clare Jones has received a New Year treat after she was drawn as the winner of the BVNA’s December #VNVoice competition.

Clare won £400 of shopping vouchers after she signed up and completed the December poll questions on BVNA’s members’ forum.

The latest polls (5&6) asked VNs for their experiences when it comes to giving advice on pets to clients, nurse consulting, and whether they offer advice on certain clinical conditions as a VN within their practice.

The number of VNs engaging in these poll topics was the highest yet, showing how nurses are keen to get to their #VNVoice heard and to spread the word across the veterinary profession. The headline results from the questions were as follows:

Vet referral to a nurse

80% were NOT surprised by Onswitch research that found only 4% of observed vet consultations resulted in a referral to a nurse.

The #VNVoice survey statistics appeared to agree with the Onswitch figures. When asked, Within your own practice, of the cases which you feel could potentially have nurse led input, how often are you asked to get involved/referred to?”, 4% of respondents reported that cases were referred to them 75-100% of the time.

What clinics do nurses offer?

 The most commonly-run nursing clinic or advice offered was in the topic of weight management. 87% of respondents said that they offered clinics on this subject. One respondent said, “We are talking to clients on reception or on the phone about many areas but the only one we have specific nurse clinics for is weight [management]”.

Other respondents talked about being able to offer a variety of clinics. The survey found that 47% gave advice for diabetic patients and 45% on wound management.

 Use of nursing skills

Only 24% of respondents answered that their practice made great use of their skills

65% said they felt their practice made SOME use of their skills. A comment from one of the nurses explains, “In my experience, nurses are often under used in practice and especially when it comes to any species or condition specific knowledge they may have; which is a shame as many nurses have a favourite topic that they are hugely knowledgeable on and can offer vital assistance to the client / pet / team”.

Winners of December’s #VNVoice prize draw

The winners of December’s VNVoice competition were Clare Jones who wins £400 of shopping vouchers, and Jessica Tattersall, who wins £150 of vouchers. Five runners-up – Sophie Bedford, Jo Oakden, Emma Osborne, Sarah Duckering and Rebecca Ridely win a £50 voucher each.

BVNA President Sam Morgan said:

“I’m delighted that our responses are growing month on month – it shows the depth of feeling of our members about these topics. Nurse consulting is growing as a service within the profession and benefits both the client and the practice. However, it is disappointing that our #VNVoices have found such a variation. Some practices who have embraced nurse consulting have found benefits not only to their clients, but also to the nurses, who feel valued and that their career has progressed. Other practices who are not making the most of their nurses’ skills are not experiencing these benefits. I’d like to pull out one of the comments in particular, “I locum quite a lot at different places and I don’t think nurse clinics are utilised a lot and unfortunately nurses tend to be in the back ground. The only advice I’ve been able to give was actually during my training which was on weight clinics. I have worked at a practice where the vets did all the clinics nurses could do including flea and worming

“I believe that nurse consulting is an area of the veterinary nursing role that helps achieve two of the VN Futures’ aims, by offering a structured and rewarding career path and maximising nurses’ potential.  Although nurse clinics are popular, I hope they will become more wide-spread.”

The portal competition has now come to a close but members are strongly encouraged to carry on participating in the polls, which will continue to run monthly. The online platform is run through Moodle and is open to all BVNA members, who can sign up to take part via the BVNA members’ section on the website

Any BVNA member interested in giving more in-depth feedback about the profession is encouraged to sign up to the Consultation Panel – you will be asked to complete longer surveys online on an occasional basis.

The data gathered from the poll questions and the Consultation Panel questionnaires is used to inform the BVNA Council so that they can use the feedback to further their services and representation for veterinary nursing profession.

For further information, visit



VPMA launches webinar series for everyone new to a management role

IN RESPONSE to a need for sound advice on management topics, VPMA has put together a series of webinars for everyone who is facing a new management role in veterinary practice.

 The webinars build into a course covering the management topics that cause the most concern for those with limited experience or who are considering moving into a practice management or supervisory role. The VPMA brought together the topics after asking veterinary nurses at the Head Nurse Congress earlier in the year to complete a questionnaire.

The top ‘wants’ fed back by nurses heading into management roles were focused around people management. Dealing with difficult team members was the area where the respondents felt least confident, with 80% wanting more help and advice. The other topics included the following:

  • 80% Dealing with difficult team members
  • 71% Appraisals
  • 56% Time management
  • 41% Client communication

 VPMA President Renay Rickard – an RVN herself – said that this type of support at an introductory level would be welcomed by many in new roles.

She said: “Starting a role in management can be daunting, especially if you suddenly find yourself moving from a clinical role to managing a team. You can’t be expected to know everything straight away and VPMA is keen to offer support to those who are starting out in their management careers, as well as to established and experienced practice managers.

“This webinar series will serve to give confidence to VNs, vets or those coming from outside the profession so they can be armed with basic tools to help them handle people management issues in practice. They will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of each webinar, knowing that everyone attending is in the same position and therefore nobody will feel silly asking!”

 VPMA’s New to Management webinars will be delivered by top speakers in their fields and will be run in the evenings. Each webinar will last for approximately 50 minutes, with a discussion at the end, and they will run at intervals of two to three weeks, starting in February 2017.

Details of what each webinar will cover are as follows.


This webinar will look at the various roles within practice, look at personality traits and how to encourage cohesive, supportive team structures.


Appraisals are often dreaded – on both sides! This webinar will outline a simple structure for appraisals and highlight some dos and don’ts to make them as stress-free as possible.


Dealing with difficult team members is stressful and hard. Find out how to handle these situations and what might be expected of you in managing a disciplinary process.


Are you managing the ops list, organising lunch, planning rotas and juggling student training, alongside your regular day job? Join us for some top tips on managing your time efficiently and effectively.


Do you have responsibility for managing social media or marketing in your practice? This webinar helps you understand the basic rules of engagement on and offline. Includes managing negative social media and PR.


Keeping clients on-side in a complaint is stressful and if handled incorrectly, might make matters worse. Learn how to resolve such situations and how, by good communication, they can be avoided or minimised.

Each webinar costs £15+VAT, or you can book all six for £60+VAT. If you have team members carrying out any kind of management role or activity, then show your support by enrolling them.

Or better still – sign them up for VPMA membership! The webinar series, like the Lunchtime Management Update talks, are all free to VPMA members.

To sign up or for more information email or visit






VPMA President Renay Rickard has thanked two of the organisation’s board members, who will complete their tenures at the end of 2016, for their long-standing support of theVeterinary  Practice Management Association.

Pauline Graham and Howard Brown will come to the end of their terms on the Board of Directors at the end of 2016, after many years’ service to the VPMA.

Please find below some information about both Pauline and Howard and their roles during their tenure at VPMA.

Pauline Graham

Pauline was proposed and accepted on to the VPMA Council at the AGM in January 2006, with her first official meeting being March of that year. Pauline has been an active Regional Organiser for the VPMA and has been on the Regions and Events Committee as well as the Congress Committee.  she most recently  has been the joint VPMA/SPVS CPD rep.

Pauline was President of the Veterinary Practice Management Association in 2012/2013.

Although Pauline will no longer be on the VPMA board of directors, she will have a role as the VPMA representative for BVA.

 Howard Brown

Howard started inputting to VPMA meetings in early 2006. In May of that year, Rita Dingwall approached him about joining VPMA Council. He became a Council member from the association’s July meeting and was ratified by the members at the AGM in January 2007.

Howard has offered much support and advice to the VPMA, and was instrumental in making the VPMA see itself as a business and also as a Board of Directors.

Howard was VPMA Treasurer from January 2009 to July 2010 and President in 2015/2016.

VPMA President Renay Rickard said:

Pauline and Howard have been a fabulous support to the association during their time on the Board and I would like to offer my thanks on behalf of the association to them both for their dedication and help.

“Both Directors have been instrumental in helping to keep the VPMA relevant and useful for members, and Howard was key to the restructuring of the association to become a board-led organisation in keeping with its company status. Pauline has been very active as a RCO, never an easy job, and has contributed greatly across her other committees, of which there were many.”

“From a personal point of view, they have both been a great support during my presidential year. I have always been able to rely on Howard for an entertaining debate over a drink after a long day of meetings. We may not always agree as I think we see things at times from very different perspectives – which is healthy for the association!

Pauline was VPMA President when I joined the board and was a great inspiration as we worked in similar environments. Her down-to-earth and calm approach encouraged me to get fully involved with the VPMA board and subsequently the president’s role. I still cannot believe she shared a hotel lift with a certain Steven Gerrard though – during which time he asked her to keep the noise down for rooms close by. It would seem the reputation of VPMA Presidents is more ‘rock and roll’ than that of multimillionaire footballers!”

Five new members were appointed to the Board of Directors in the summer of 2016, namely Janie Claire, Georgina Hills, Gillian Page, Stuart Saunders and Diane Horner.

Further information about the new members may be found on the website




The most recent tranche of candidates who undertook VPMA’s Certificate in Veterinary Practice Management are celebrating their success.

Three candidates gained the Certificate in November, which is awarded by the VPMA to individuals who have demonstrated their ability to effectively manage a veterinary practice, hospital or unit. The three new CVPM holders are as follows:

  • Ms Louise Reeve of Yoredale Vets, High Burton, Yorkshire;
  • Miss Leah Morley of Hyde Park Veterinary Centre, London; and
  • Mrs Stacey Van Gent of Toachim House Veterinary Surgery, Faversham, Kent.

Roger Wilson, Certification and Training Committee member, said the standard of candidates gaining the Certificate this year was high. He commented:

“I was really impressed with the successful candidates for this year’s CVPM examination. They were all a bit nervous initially (who wouldn’t be) then focused on the questions and delivered in-depth answers that not only dealt well with the immediate problem presented, but also considered long-term implications for the practice.

“The candidates had a detailed understanding of HR issues and knew where to find details of the relevant legislation, they were very conscious of the profession’s need to behave ethically and where to get the help and support they need, had a good understanding of marketing and setting SMART goals, as well as strategic planning, and could look at a set of accounts and tell us where the problems were!

“Personally I would be delighted to have any one of them working for me: they would make my life easier and make my practice more successful and more profitable.”

The candidates

The three candidates were delighted with their success. Louise said:

“Passing the CVPM is a fantastic personal and professional achievement, and all the hard work certainly paid off! The skills learned through studying have been invaluable, and have further empowered me to support my colleagues and help develop the practice further. The brilliant team at Yoredale Vets have been a fantastic support from the outset, as have the staff at the VPMA.”

Leah was keen to highlight the benefits of taking the CVPM and encourage others to take the plunge. She said:

“A practice manager’s role varies so much between practices, making it difficult to standardise a job description. This can often make it harder to establish performance measures within the role as well. I have always thought of the CVPM syllabus as foundation for the knowledge and skills required to manage a veterinary practice. It also highlights some of the differences between management of other industries.

“There were a lot of nerves on the day and the examination committee did their absolute best to put everyone at ease. I was excited and delighted to receive the email confirming my result, it is an honour to join the highly respected group of CVPM holders. I would encourage any practice manager sitting on the fence about the exam to attend one of the CVPM workshops, this gave me the extra confidence boost to finally go for it and I am so pleased I did.”

Stacey gained confidence in the role, saying:

“Passing the CVPM has been a massive personal and professional achievement. Having the knowledge and confidence to manage a happy and successful veterinary practice is a huge morale boost.”

The CVPM exam

The Certificate in Veterinary Practice Management exam consisted of a 30-minute oral exam where each candidate had to say how he or she would deal with 10 problems of the type that occur every day in practice, give a 10-minute presentation on the feasibility of, and a business plan for, setting up a mobile clinic in their own practice area, spend 15 minutes answering questions on a report he or she had written on ‘How they had used their knowledge to benefit the veterinary environment in which they worked” and 30 minutes answering questions about a fictitious practice, the details of which they had been given two weeks beforehand.

The CVPM is aimed both at experienced managers who are new to the veterinary industry and members of the veterinary team who are currently working in a management role. The qualification also provides a benchmark for veterinary employers seeking to employ a new practice manager.

The individual must demonstrate this ability by providing evidence of their managerial skills over six core areas:

  • General Management
  • Personnel
  • Communication
  • Financial Management
  • Marketing
  • Strategic Management

For more information about the CVPM visit




Association releases popular webinar recording from member archive

The Veterinary Practice Management Association (VPMA) has opened access to one of its popular Lunchtime Management Update webinar recordings as a Christmas gift to non-members. The 45-minute webinar “Debt Management: Prevention Is Better Than Cure” is available to listen to at any time and is presented by Mike Brooks from veterinary-specialist debt recovery agency, dsl.

VPMA President Renay Rickard said: “Debt can affect any business, but, because of the role vets play as care-giver in an emotionally-based animal-owner relationship, we are particularly vulnerable. This is something that is commonly brought up by members at our regional meetings and events, and it’s a real dilemma for them how to juggle being strict with payment policies against owner expectations and misperceptions of the cost of veterinary medicine.

“This has been a very popular topic in both our regional meetings and with our webinar and we wanted to open it up to more people to help them tackle this topic in their practices. The feedback on this webinar has been very positive. Mike gives clear guidance on how to set up payment protocols that will minimise debt in such a way that maintains the client-practice relationship. There’s also information on how to recover existing debts. It makes sense to prioritise tackling this issue as if we’re not paid, then we can’t deliver the service that we are expected to, and that our patients need.

“We’re pleased to open this webinar up to all practices as a Christmas gift, and hope it will also highlight the support that is available through VPMA membership.”

The webinar can be accessed through a link on the home page of the VPMA website

Another Christmas gift was in store for the winner of a year’s free VPMA membership, drawn from entrants to the association’s competition at London Vet Show. The winner was RVN Helen Hughes, Clinical Manager at Moorview Vets in Newcastle.

More information about the VPMA can be found at

XLVets’ CPD winners from London Vet Show donate their prize
Receptionists benefit from their bosses’ win

TWO receptionists from Leonard Brothers Veterinary Centre in Whitchurch, Shropshire, were the lucky recipients of a prize of a CPD course courtesy of XLVets, awarded at London Vet Show. Zoe Simpson and Sarah Carter were awarded the prize from their boss Andy Nelson, who completed the Collaboration Game on XLVets’ stand during London Vet Show. Andy and his partner, Tom Leonard, decided to donate the prize to Zoe and Sarah, as both receptionists were new to the practice and would therefore greatly benefit from the additional training. Ann Mottram, Brand Manager for XLVets Pet said: “Our Collaboration Game on the XLVets stand at London Vet Show was a great success and we had a great number of entries. Tom and Andy were the fastest team to complete the competition and decided to donate their prize to their two new members of staff.
“We’re delighted Zoe and Sarah will be taking the Delivering Customer Excellence course, run by XLVets Training Services, which will boost their confidence as new receptionists. The game proved to be great fun and gave us a great opportunity to chat to many members of the veterinary team throughout the two days of London Vet Show.”

Zoe and Sarah are delighted to have the opportunity to develop their skills further as it will help them in their new role at Leonard Brothers. Improving customer excellence will be a benefit for all; staff, clients and patients too.
To find out more about XLVets, visit


First results from #VNVoice portal
Poll results and winners announced for month 1 of
BVNA members’ portal competition

The results of BVNA’s first polls, put on its members’ website to elicit the views of the
Association’s members and encourage sign up to its new “VNVoice” portal, have been
announced today (November 1).

Members were asked to respond to a number of topics, for which they gained points to be
entered into a monthly prize draw, giving them more chance of winning each time. The
online platform is run through Moodle and is open to all BVNA members, who can sign up to
take part via the BVNA members’ section on the website

The poll results included the following highlights:
“Are you aware of VN Futures?”
61.5% Yes
30.7% No
7.7% Not sure
“Of the six VN Futures ambitions which are the most important to you?” (tick all that
75.4% Structured and rewarding career path
64.9% Maximising nurses’ potential
63.1% A confident, resilient, healthy and well supported workforce
50.8% A clarified and bolstered VN role via a reformed schedule 3
36.8% Creating a sustainable workforce
24.5% Proactive role in one health

“Please tell us why?” (selection of comments):
“My nursing career is very important to me, but I feel that sometimes my career
development options are limited by lack of knowledge and understanding of the VN role
and just what we are capable of.”

“The veterinary industry is lagging behind the rest of the UK with regard to employee rights, health and welfare and this review is very welcome!”
“It is essential for veterinary nurses to take responsibility for moving the profession forward and creating a strong and supportive
network for themselves and others. A pathway to provide clarification to duties and
responsibilities and creating a profession that individuals want to stay in.”
“I am keen to support all of the VN Futures ambitions. If any of these can be achieved I
believe more nurses can be supported and utilised, thus, helping to maintain a healthy and
stable profession.”
Winners of October #VNVoice prize draw
BVNA is delighted to announce the winners of its VNVoice competition this month are
Steph Worsley, who wins £400 of shopping vouchers, and Kerry Stonehouse, who wins £150
of vouchers. Five runners-up – Judy Blythe, Sarah Milne, Laura Frith, Rachel Sims and Vicky Cloherty win a £50 voucher each.
BVNA President Sam Morgan said: “BVNA is delighted at the numbers of members who have already signed up for the ‘VNVoice’ portal. We feel this shows the commitment of veterinary nurses towards their profession and their continued development.
“We hope that more veterinary nurses join us, as we increase the number of topics under
discussion, so we can build on the engagement with our members and develop a bigger
voice in the profession.
“Congratulations to our first VNVoice winners, Steph and Kerry, and our runners up. Thanks to everyone who signed up and took part throughout October and a big vote of thanks to our fantastic sponsors who have made these amazing prizes a reality.”
For further information, visit





The Veterinary Practice Management Association (VPMA) has reviewed its strategy going into 2017 and beyond and will be focusing on five specific areas.

This renewed focus is the outcome of a Strategy Day held by the VPMA Board in October during which members were asked to reflect on areas the Association should “start, continue, change or stop” going forward.

VPMA President Renay Rickard said: “This was a really productive and useful exercise that I will definitely be using in practice as it helped to highlight the things we feel we do well, but also areas we either need to develop or change … or simply just stop.

“By the end of the strategy day we had a very clear idea about the areas we want to focus on for 2017 and had also developed small working groups to get things moving forward.”

The areas VPMA will focus on are as follows.

1.Full utilisation of the secretariat and development of their role

Having successfully recruited additional members to boost the VPMA Board with specific skill sets, it was decided to further develop the role of the secretariat with assigned management responsibilities, to help drive forward goals set by the President and Board.

  1. Professional engagement

Develop engagement with all areas of the veterinary industry, including independent practices, corporate and large veterinary groups, commercial businesses and educators. This has been broken down into two sub groups:

  1. i) Future members ii) Businesses
  2. Wider remit

Change the perception of VPMA as an association for just practice managers. In a fast-changing industry the traditional models of management and leadership structures within practices is changing, and VPMA needs to change with it to encourage membership from across the whole veterinary team and wider industries.

  1. Members’ magazine

Review Practice Life magazine to ensure it is providing relevant information, is available to the right people, and is in the format that readers want.

  1. Remuneration

To review board members’ remuneration – currently all the work done by the board is voluntary and the time commitment can mean many members using holiday or unpaid time for VPMA meetings and events. Payment of a daily rate would offset time away from daily practice.

Board members have put the strategy into action and started to have meetings within the subgroups and initial reports and actions will be taken to the next board meeting in December.
To ensure the success and relevance of the strategy going forward, the Board will review its areas of focus and overall strategy annually as well as ongoing during VPMA meetings and working groups throughout the year.

More information about the VPMA can be found at


Supporting bereaved clients at Christmas

Compassion Understood is calling on veterinary practices to support clients who are saying good-bye or have recently suffered a pet bereavement during the Christmas period.

During November and December, Compassion Understood will be engaging with pet owners via social media, blogs and videos to offer comfort and advice for anyone who is remembering the loss of their pet around this time, or who are facing their first Christmas without their pet. Veterinary practices are being encouraged to share the posts with their clients.

It is a well-known fact that Christmas can be a difficult time for many people. Last year Samaritans took around 198,000 calls over the Christmas period*. Messages abound regarding spending time with family and close friends, and people can find themselves thinking about those they have lost. Visits to the cemetery and other memorials give comfort to the bereaved.

But what do pet owners do and where do they go? Compassion Understood research with over 500 pet owners found that they need and want support following the loss of their pet. Many find it difficult to talk to family or friends about the loss of a cherished companion; they feel foolish or embarrassed. Further, Compassion Understood’s research found that owners don’t expect to receive specific counselling from their vet, but they do wish to be supported and signposted to where they can find help with grieving should they need it.

These are a few of the many comments that Compassion Understood received on the topic**:

“There was no support group or therapy information offered. I found therapy through my work employee benefits”

“My vet should have mentioned grief counsellor (sic) for dog loss, it’s very traumatic especially [as it’s] my first dog”

As well as those clients who have already lost a pet, what about those who are about to say good-bye to theirs? Many practices experience an increase in euthanasia requests during this time, and it is important to consider these owners too. With those whose pets are currently receiving end-of-life care, are they made aware of their practice’s opening hours and procedures for emergency cover during the extra bank holidays? Sharing opening times and vet rotas with these clients in advance will help them to be prepared in the event of their pet deteriorating or them deciding on the timing of their goodbye. Many clients will want to see the vet they have built a relationship with and trusted rather than the stranger who is working out of hours.

Doug Muir, Compassion Understood Director comments on the difficulties faced around Christmas, “We know that veterinary practices can lose up to 20% of clients following the loss of their pet. Although this may include those who have moved away, or who haven’t gone and got another pet, there’s a significant number who cannot face coming back to the same surgery- the memories are too painful. It’s even harder around Christmas time. The role of the practice and the support given by them is fundamental to making a difference to this statistic. Acknowledging the owner’s feelings through their whole pet loss journey, being aware of sensitivity around Christmas time for those who have lost their pet previously will all help to demonstrate your support. The Compassion Understood website gives sources of bereavement support, as well as some ideas for how, as part of the Christmas spirit of togetherness, practices and owners can remember pets that have passed away. ”Top of Form

The Compassion Understood pet owner website ( is freely available for practices to link to at any time. As well as sensitively written information, there are Christmas compassionate social media posts and blogs that practices can repost to their clients to help them through what might be a difficult time.

For practices wishing to learn more about end-of-life care and client support, Compassion Understood runs an online training programme for the whole practice team. Practice members can also sign up as users of the Compassion Understood veterinary website ( for private veterinary blogs and newsletters.

Visitors to London Vet Show this year are invited to come along and meet the Compassion Understood team on Stand M65.

More information on Compassion Understood’s veterinary support can be found at

* Samaritans telephone platform (UK) data 2015

**Compassion Understood Pet Owner Research 2015


Clent Hills Vets lead the way

Owners can rest assured their pet will be looked after at the end

The experience of losing a pet is heart-breaking and, for some, overwhelming, like losing a friend or a family member. Emotions run high and the last thing an owner wants to experience is an unnecessary problem when they have to make the decision to bring a pet’s life to an end.

At this incredibly difficult time, pet owners need to know their veterinary practice will look after their beloved pet and handle the euthanasia (put to sleep) process sensitively and professionally.

Clent Hills Vets has gone the extra mile when it comes to caring for pets at the end of their life and has put its team through specialist training to ensure clients get the best support and experience possible. The practice has gained platinum accreditation, the first in the country to do so. The accreditation is to help pet owners find practices that have adopted a compassionate and bond-centred approach to end-of-life care.

The training, conducted through online portal, helped the team get to grips with a highly emotional topic, by offering practical advice on protocols and veterinary procedures to make a pet’s end of life as dignified and trouble-free as possible, as well as learning more about the different stages of grief, and understanding how owners feel at the time – including feelings such as guilt, shock and despair.

As a result of the training, the staff are much more confident in talking to owners about euthanasia when a pet is still fit and healthy, rather than only broaching the subject when a pet is nearing the end of its life, which is an incredibly stressful time. Addressing the subject when a pet is well can help an owner think clearly about the options, and take some of the stress out of making those decisions.

The practice has set up a dedicated Bereavement Room and ensures that clients have enough time in their appointments to go through what will happen during a euthanasia, as well as being able to sit quietly afterwards. Clients are able to talk to the team who have now all undergone the pet end-of-life training.

Clent Hills Vets’ director and practice manager, Rebekka Fiorani, explains why she wanted the team to take the training and become accredited.

“We always strive to offer our clients and their pets the best experience at Clent Hills Vets. We look after your puppy or kitten from day one, throughout its life, and when the sad time comes to put him or her to sleep, we feel all members of the team need to be aware of what the client needs at that time.

“I was delighted to find the Compassion Understood course, which has benefited our team, from our receptionists, who often book in the euthanasia appointments, to nurses who look after the pets and clients when preparing for an end-of-life appointment, to our vets who are always there to ensure a pet’s passing is pain-free and gentle and that the client understands what to expect.

“The team has grown in confidence and will now discuss ahead of time what owners want for their pet when the time comes. Doing this in advance means we have it on our records and we can prepare fully, ensuring as much stress is taken out of the situation when it does finally happen. Clients are assured their pet will have the right care and support at this sad time and the veterinary team is well prepared to ensure everything goes smoothly.”

The team at Clent Hills Vets also directs clients to the Compassion Understood website, which provides clear and reliable information about a pet’s end of life and helps owners with the decision-making process, as well as offering advice on the grieving process and coping afterwards.

If you wish to discuss a pet’s end-of-life care, ring the experienced reception team at the practice and they will offer support and advice, no matter what age or species your pet is. Telephone 01527 889810 or visit


October 2016


Five new members welcomed aboard

VPMA President Renay Rickard has welcomed five new members to the VPMA’s Board, with effect from July this year. The members were officially ratified during the Association’s board meeting which was held in July.

Practice management is changing and to ensure the VPMA stays abreast of developments in the profession, the board decided to expand out and build up the number of directors. The new board members complement the skills of the existing members as well as increasing the diversity of career experiences and backgrounds, to reflect the changing nature of veterinary practice management today.

As part of its “Forever Learning” initiative, VPMA was proud to sponsor the recent CAW Head Nurse Congress, during which they polled nurse delegates on their thoughts and experiences of nurses going into management positions.

The results emphatically showed a disconnect between what nurses were expected to know for management roles and the actual experience they had, especially in areas such as managing difficult team members and general people management. Delegates numbered 106 over the two days of congress, and 92 responded to the survey. The fact that so many head nurses engaged with the survey shows a high level of interest in the general topic of “management” from this group.

Headline stats were:

  • 88% of respondents said they are responsible for dealing with difficult team members, with 80% wanting more training in this.
  • 61% said they were responsible for appraisals, with 71% asking for more training.
  • 66% said they were responsible for recruitment, with 39% asking for more training.

Supporting head nurses and encouraging more VNs to get involved in practice management is something the board is committed to, along with being an inclusive association for practice managers who come from “outside” the veterinary profession.

Renay said: “On behalf of the board, we are delighted to welcome our five new directors. The broad range of skills and experiences that our new board members bring reflects the increasing diversity of the practice management profession, and will complement the existing team to further support and drive forward our profession.

“I’m excited about the prospect of having new members with veterinary nursing backgrounds, which reflects how nurses are moving into management more and more, and VPMA can help them succeed in practice management roles and support their career development.”

The five new board members are as follows:

Janie Clare

I trained and qualified as a nurse at a busy mixed practice in Cheshire. I have been the practice manager of Rutland House veterinary hospital and referral centre for the past 12 years. Managing all 10 branches, including the hospital and referral centre, keeps me out of mischief! In my “spare time” I have two Border terriers and I am a huge vintage VW camper van fan, proudly owning four. I also run alongside my hubby, a disability athletics club as I am is a shot, discus and javelin coach.

Georgina Hills

I started as a student veterinary nurse in 1995, back in the days of the “green book” and progressed to nurse and then head nurse in various practices in the south-west. I had one break from veterinary life to run a mountain biking holiday company in Spain for a year and then returned to my greens. Looking for the next challenge I moved from head nurse to practice manager at a hospital and referral centre where my boss encouraged me to study and then take the Certificate in Veterinary Practice Management, which I was proud to achieve in 2013. I am now a member of the Certificate and Training Committee – sitting on the other side of the table and promoting the CVPM! I joined Independent Vetcare as a business support manager and now look after 12 practices in North Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire, working with the practice managers and clinical directors to develop their practices and teams.
In my spare time I play in a brass band and visit Snowdonia to go mountain biking or walk the dogs.

Gillian Page

I am the co-owner and business manager of Ayrton Veterinary Hospital near Edinburgh. The business opened from a cold start in 1999 and progressed to a purpose-built veterinary hospital in 2006. I was part of the design team and co-project managed the year-long build. Initial training as a veterinary nurse at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh was followed by a head VN position in Pinner. Subsequent roles included lecturer in nursing and key account manager.

As centre manager for The College of Animal Welfare in 2000, I was involved as deputy programme leader in the setting up of Scotland’s first BSc(Hons) Degree in Veterinary Nursing between CAW and Napier University. I obtained the ESVPS Certificate in Business and Professional Skills in 2011.

I have a particular interest in practice standards – creating, implementing and maintaining protocols and working processes, believing that structure and standardisation in practice can help a business achieve quality assurance and professional confidence.


In my spare time I like to travel, read, follow Formula 1 and, not always enjoyable, but have had a season ticket at Ibrox for more than 20 years!

Stuart Saunders

I have been a practice manager for veterinary practices since 2007 and currently look after a three-branch mixed practice in Devon. Prior to that I had a long career as a broker in the City of London and Hong Kong trading derivatives and convertible bonds in both European and Far East markets. I am hugely motivated by the veterinary industry but not from a clinical point of view; my passion is my staff and the service they can deliver to our clients.

Outside work (as if there is any life outside work!) is filled with my wife and four children, our pets, charity work and my other job, which is working and helping manage 275 volunteers at Glastonbury Festival every year. If time allows I fly fish and make wickedly strong cocktails at parties for friends.

Diane Horner

I’m joint owner and practice manager of Peter Fenton Equine Vets based in Greater Manchester. We set up the practice in 2004 and 12 years later we are a small team of six. Prior to this I worked in a large multi-national insurer managing customer service and covering the northern area. Day-to-day in practice I manage all elements of the business, both in terms of the processes and the people. I joined VPMA when we first set up the practice because I came from a completely different industry and knew nothing about the profession, and recently joined the board to see if we can influence the way things are moving within the veterinary profession.

The board members are in place and they will take on specific areas of responsibility and on working parties within the VPMA in the coming months, more of which will be announced in due course.

More information about the VPMA can be found at




24th August 2016

Not-for-profit vets Animal Trust coming to the North West

Pet owners living in Ellesmere Port and the surrounding areas will soon benefit from the opening of veterinary group Animal Trust’s new clinic on the Cedab Road Industrial Estate in November 2016.  The not-for-profit business charges no consultation fee for sick or injured pets, encouraging pet owners to access veterinary help and advice when they need it.

Animal Trust Veterinary Group is already well-established in the Greater Manchester area with surgeries in Failsworth, Blackburn and a 24 hour hospital in Bolton where they provide high quality veterinary care at affordable prices. Clients at the new clinic at Ellesmere Port will be able to access subsidised services there, as well as hydrotherapy and CT scans through the Bolton branch.

Veterinary surgeon and founding Director of Animal Trust Dr Owen Monie, says “People have been regularly travelling long distances to get to access our veterinary services and so we decided to widen the geographic area covered by our clinics. Ellesmere Port is a perfect location to do this – as well as providing high quality not-for-profit care to the local community’s pets, the new surgery will be ideally located off the motorway for easy access for people traveling from Cheshire, North Wales and the Wirral. Having invested over 3 million pounds in facilities in and around Manchester and Lancashire, we are delighted to now be investing in Ellesmere Port”.

The group already employs over 150 people, and will bring on board a further 7 initially to work in the Ellesmere Port branch. Situated next to Ellesmere Port train station and a short distance off Junction 9 of the M53, the currently disused industrial building will be transformed by local contractors to provide seven consultation rooms and two operating theatres as well as car parking for 50 vehicles.

Pet owners will be able to register for the new clinic in advance of its opening – details will be released nearer the time. Multiple pets can be registered. Access to free consultations for sick and injured pets is open to all and is not mean-tested.

Photos: Internal and external images of the Cedab Road site, soon to be transformed into a new veterinary clinic for North West pets. Dr Owen Monie MA VetMB MRCVS, founding director of Animal Trust.


ISFM European Congress brings 36 nations together

The International Society of Feline Medicine’s European Congress took place recently on the gorgeous Mediterranean island of Malta from the 29th June – 3rd July 2016. Over 400 attendees from 36 countries, including North America, Australia and Japan attended the 5-day feline conference at the Hilton Hotel in Portomaso. The clinical programme, which focused on feline gastroenterology and feline orthopaedics was complemented by a lively social programme, supported by the congress founding and platinum sponsors, Hill’s Pet Nutrition (founding), Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Ceva and Merial Animal Health, and speaker sponsors Virbac and Agria. The pre-congress day on feline analgesia and anaesthesia proved as much of a draw as the main programme, with packed lectures from start to finish. Masterclasses in feline gastroenterology and feline osteoarthritis and other joint diseases were also extremely popular, with the former selling out and requiring additional sessions to be put on.

Speakers included renowned experts from the UK, Italy and Switzerland. Professor Jacky Reid and Professor Derek Flaherty from the University of Glasgow focused on analgesia and anaesthesia, to include information and a call for help in gathering evidence to inform the new cat HRQOL scale developed by VetMetrica. The feline gastroenterology streams were presented by Dr Alex German of the University of Liverpool and Professor Karin Allenspach, of the Royal Veterinary College, London. Feline orthopaedics lectures were presented by Professor David Bennett, University of Glasgow, Professor Bruno Peirone, University of Turin and Dr Frank Steffen, of the University of Zurich.

A lively commercial exhibition ran throughout the congress where delegates could find out about the latest products and services from leading suppliers. Attendees were able to mingle at the Hill’s Sunset BBQ and an outdoor cocktail reception following the Bayer mini-symposium. The traditional half-day of congress on Saturday allowed delegates to explore the island and take advantage of the sight-seeing tour of the beautiful Maltese capital, Valletta.

Feedback from the delegates was very positive, with 93% of all delegates rating the overall scientific content of the conference as excellent, very good and good. 95% of all delegates also rated the congress as excellent, very good or good value for money. Comments included, ‘This is the best feline focused conference with wonderful speakers, and diverse attendants’; ‘This kind of congress is the reason I keep getting enthusiastic about my job’; ‘The best feline congress I have ever been to by far’.

Next year’s ISFM European Congress is also the World Feline Congress and comes home to the UK, to the eclectic city of Brighton on the south coast from June 28th to July 2nd, 2017. The venue will be The Grand Hotel on the seafront.  Congress topics will include feline endocrinology and cardiorespiratory topics, as well as masterclasses, posters, wet labs and a nursing stream. To register to receive further details as they become available, contact

Delegates put flag on map_sm

Dr Alex German_sm

Sunset BBQ_sm


Case conversations with Filippo De Bellis DVM CertVD DipECVD MRCVS European Specialist in Veterinary Dermatology

Interactive case-based dermatology CPD in the heart of London

Itchy pets and skin disease are the topics de jour at an upcoming CPD evening hosted by London Vet Specialists (LVS). Renowned veterinary dermatologist and LVS consultant, Dr Filippo De Bellis, will be informally discussing a series of real-life cases with veterinary attendees, giving lots of work-up tips along the way. The evening is to take place at the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE on Thursday 14th July at 7.30pm

Dr De Bellis is well-known for being the current President of the British Veterinary Dermatology Study Group (BVDSG), as well as for his approachable and entertaining presenting style. He is encouraging vets to come along, enjoy a few beers (or soft drinks!) and talk through a selection of dermatology challenges. Dr De Bellis is also inviting case submissions from practitioners – even those where the diagnoses remain elusive!

The event is free to all veterinary professionals, and CPD Certificates will be available. The evening commences at 7.00pm with an informal supper and refreshments, followed by the discussion at 7.30pm. The evening is expected to finish by 9.30pm. The event is kindly sponsored by Zoetis.

To R.S.V.P, please contact or telephone 020 7433 0187. The LVS CPD evenings are proving to be very popular so early booking is advised.

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Plucky duck lays unexpected egg

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Birds flying into windows and other urban inventions are some of the common hazards of man and nature co-existing in the city, but sometimes they can work wonders together. When a bystander at Broomfield Park in Palmers Green, saw a female duck fly into a wire fence and slice the full length of her bill down to the bone, she rushed to the aid of the unfortunate animal, scooping her up carefully to get help from the veterinary practice opposite the park – Village Vet.

The mallard was quite shocked and veterinarian, Dr Crina Dragu, and had been asked to put the duck to sleep even before she saw the unfortunate creature. But although the damage was bad, Crina felt sure she could repair the wound through surgery, using tissue glue to set the bill back in place. She called the Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) in Trent Park for a second opinion and Barry Smitherman, founder and chairman of WRAS, agreed that it was worth trying.  

After administering pain relief to the poor duck, Crina decided to take the animal to Village Vet’s nearby Southgate branch, where a full operating suite and recovery unit was available. Fortuitously, her off-duty colleague, veterinary nurse Clare Green, happened to drive by as she set off, and stopped to help Crina. Carefully, the duck was anaesthetised, its wound explored and cleaned and the bill was pieced back together. Afterwards, the weary duck was given a comfy bed for the night in one of the facility’s kennels.

The following morning, Crina popped into the surgery on her way to Palmers Green to check on her patient and was astonished to see that not only was she doing well – the bill was holding nicely – but she had also laid a large egg. Cheered by this unexpected turn of events, Crina called Barry at WRAS, who came later that day to take the duck to the WRAS rehabilitation centre in Trent Park. The plucky mallard is doing well and the plan is to return her to Bloomfield Park, an historic conservation area, when she recovers sufficiently. 

Sadly, her surprise egg didn’t make it. Ducks don’t normally sit on eggs until the full batch is laid – so this may have been the first or last of a batch or, perhaps more likely, the trauma may have thrown nature off course. But Village Vet and WRAS have high hopes that she will live to lay another lot soon.

Dermatology drive for XLVet’s practices – scratch below the surface

“Skin conditions can be very distressing for both pets and owners and they can seem difficult to treat. But with the right expert veterinary care and a tailored management plan, a pet’s condition can be brought under control and the itching soothed.”

That is the message from XLVets, whose group of independently run small animal practices are offering skin check clinics for owners who are concerned that their pet may be suffering from a dermatology issue. The Scratch Below the Surface initiative is running throughout the summer, from May to August, to help owners identify and manage skin conditions, and increase compliance by developing client understanding of the long-term diagnosis and treatment involved.

Paul Sands, BSc, BMedVet, CertVD, MRCVS, veterinary dermatologist from Scarsdale Veterinary Group, explains the reasons for focusing on skin conditions:

“Skin conditions in dogs and cats have many underlying causes and may require a range of treatments and long-term management strategies to keep a pet healthy and itch-free. Summer can be a particularly bad time for sensitive pets as pollens and other allergens are at their highest in the warmer months.

“The Scratch Below the Surface initiative aims to help pet owners recognise the signs of skin conditions in their pets and encourage them to talk to their vet about preventive measures to carry out at home, such as flea and tick control. They will also receive support from their veterinary team in planning long-term management strategies for pets with ongoing skin conditions.”

Participating practices will also be completing a questionnaire about the types of dermatology conditions seen, geographical variances, and common and unusual cases, and will be producing case studies, blogs and articles, which will benefit practices both within the XLVets group as a whole and the wider veterinary community.

This clinical audit activity is an ongoing focus for the group, which has several areas of specialist interest within its three divisions: XLVets Equine, XLVets Large Animal and XLVets Small Animal. The audit activity for the dermatology campaign will be undertaken towards the end of 2016.

To find out more about XLVets’ Scratch Below the Surface initiative visit

To find out more about becoming a member of XLVets Small Animal, a collaborative group of over 250 small animal vets endeavouring to be nationally recognised as the “quality mark” for veterinary care, contact XLVets UK Ltd on 01228 711788.


Scratch below the surface…. What’s lurking under your pets fur coat?

It’s fairly common to see our pets sit back, raise a back leg, and have a good old scratch behind the ear. Most of the time we think nothing of it, but there may be a more serious condition lurking under your pet’s fur coat.

Skin conditions can be very distressing for both pets and owners and they can seem difficult to treat. But with the right expert veterinary care and a tailored management plan, your pet’s condition can be brought under control and the itching soothed.

To help raise awareness of skin conditions in pets, XLVets, a group of independently owned veterinary practices, is running an initiative throughout the summer to help owners identify and manage conditions that cause itchy or sore skin, scratching or nibbling at sensitive areas, ear discharge or head shaking, or pets rolling and rubbing themselves continuously trying to relieve their itching.

Participating practices around the country are offering skin checks for owners who are concerned about their pet and whether its scratching or behaviour is related to a dermatological condition lurking under their pet’s fur coat.

Skin conditions in dogs and cats have many underlying causes and may require a range of treatments and long-term management strategies to keep pets healthy and itch-free. Summer can be a particularly bad time for sensitive pets as pollens and other allergens are at their highest in the warmer months. However, there are many causes of skin conditions, including the following:

  • Parasites, such as fleas, ticks and lice;
  • Allergies to grass, pollen, or other environmental triggers;
  • Food allergies;
  • Ear infections and conditions;
  • Reactions to bites and stings; and
  • Behavioural, such as over-grooming, triggered by stress

The Scratch Below the Surface initiative aims to help pet owners recognise the signs of skin conditions and encourages them to talk to their vet about preventive measures to carry out at home, such as flea and tick control, and to get support from their veterinary team on long-term management strategies for pets with ongoing skin conditions.

Paul Sands, veterinary dermatologist from XLVets’ member practice, Scarsdale Veterinary Group, explains: “Allergies tend to be for life, although you may notice a waxing and waning of signs in your pet over the seasons or years.  The good news is that these frustrating conditions can now be effectively managed and vets have a wide range of therapies available, including tablets, lotions, shampoos, sprays and other oral supplements that can effectively prevent or treat flare-ups.

“Despite the incurable nature of some skin conditions, I can assure you that observant owners who work closely with their veterinary surgeon can really make a difference when it comes to maintaining a healthy, comfortable and itch-free pet.”

To find out more about the XLVets Scratch Below the Surface initiative visit your local XLVets practice. To find your nearest member practice, visit us/member practices


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To discover more about where BSAVA delegates were on their journey to becoming cat friendly, the International society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the veterinary division of charity International Cat Care,  ran a survey throughout the Congress.

Delegates were asked to complete an online questionnaire and were entered into a prize draw each day to win a £50 John Lewis voucher.

Vets and nurses from around the world filled in the questionnaire, which was jointly run by ISFM and Onswitch, as part of its Big Chat initiative. The results will be analysed and released in due course.

There was a great deal of interest in the ISFM’s Cat Friendly Clinic campaign, giving the charity  a fantastic opportunity to chat with practice staff and to talk through some of the perceived problems and barriers to becoming cat friendly.

Common difficulties discussed included “I can’t do cat friendly as my waiting room’s too small…” It takes too long…” and “We don’t have a separate cat ward…” Staff on the stand were more than happy to address these points with common-sense solutions and to guide delegates to the vast array of resources available online to help veterinary clinics become Bronze, Silver or Gold-accredited under the scheme.

More details about the Cat Friendly Clinic scheme  and resources with practical solutions and examples may be found here:

The daily prize draw winners are as follows:

Wednesday (iCC pre-congress day), Julie Boxall

Thursday, Jessica Mercer

Friday, Andreea Avasuoala

Saturday, Marie Anguige

Sunday, Michelle Tromans

Congratulations to all our winners and a big thank you to everyone who took part, your feedback is greatly appreciated.




  • Chancellor “giveth and then taketh away…”

VPMA, the professional association for veterinary practice managers and anyone with an interest in veterinary business, has issued a statement on the 2016 Budget and how it may affect veterinary practices and pet owners.

Budget summary:


George Osborne’s eighth Budget speech came at a time of growing economic uncertainty.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has revised down its growth forecast for 2016 from 2.4 per cent to 2.2 per cent and the Chancellor warned that the global economic outlook is weak.

Despite these challenges the government is committed to achieving a budget surplus in 2019/20.

Against this backdrop, the Chancellor promised a budget that “puts the next generation first”.

VPMA’s view:

How does the 2016 Budget stack up for veterinary practices operating in the current generation? Weak global growth forecasts are always a bit gloomy; however, historically the UK veterinary industry has withstood fluctuations in the global economies in a robust manner, and the planned personal allowance increase from £11,000 in 2016/17 to £11,500 in 2017/18 presents an opportunity as people find a little extra change in their pockets to fund “affordable treats” for themselves and their pets.

Slightly less sunny for pet owners and practices alike is the increase in insurance premium tax (IPT) from 9.5% to 10%. Although seemingly a small percentage increase, in actuality this will noticeably increase the cost of all insurance policies, and reduce clients’ disposable income. It will add significantly to practice premises and professional indemnity insurance policies, and the increase in pet policy premiums may put insurance cover out of reach for a larger share of our pet-owning market – with implications for both practice profitability and animal welfare.

In business terms, a few bones have been thrown our way in terms of corporation tax reduction with an additional 2% reduction for April 2020 (17%) being added to the already planned reduction to 19% from 20% on 1 April 2017, and several adjustments to the small business rate relief in England from April 2017, offering benefits to those with rateable values below £51,000. Particularly benefitting are those with rateable values less than £15,000. However, beware the Director who rubs his or her hands at the prospect of less Corporation Tax as the significant imminent increases in dividend taxation may see the Chancellor “giveth and then taketh away…”


London vet specialists

London Vet Specialists’ referral centre open for business: a first for London’s pets

Last night (December 10th) staff from London Vet Specialists in Belsize Park, London, welcomed guests to the official launch party, and formally opened its doors to clients.

Cocktails and Asian bowl food were on the menu at XO Restaurant for LVS’ guests – vets, practice owners and press – who had the opportunity to meet the whole team of veterinary specialists and hear about their services.

The centre has a full complement of expertise to treat small animals in a specialist capacity, either on referral from a first opinion veterinary practice or as emergency cases in the emergency and critical care suite. LVS staff were keen to showcase their state of-the-art facilities and equipment so guests were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the premises in small groups.

Director, Brendan Robinson, said: “This is not a stand-alone hospital, it is set up to work in partnership with other vet practices. It’s a practice whose aim is to be an extension of your vet practice, that’s where your clients will feel it’s part of the extended care you’re able to provide to them.

“We are a group of specialists working together, with a multi-disciplinary approach to cases. You’re not having to run around the building trying to find a radiologist, there may be five vets – residency-trained specialist-level vets – treating each case they see.”

Heading up the team of veterinary specialists is Janet Kovak McClaren, who has extensive experience working at the Animal Medical Centre in New York, and who specialises in soft tissue surgery.

Janet said: “My interests are oncologic and minimally invasive surgery, which is relatively untapped in this country. In some procedures it is the standard of care in humans and that’s what we’re trying to bring. And I can say after practising for 20 years I can say the difference in animals and their recovery after minimally invasive procedure versus traditional procedure is quite remarkable. And that’s something we can do for elective procedures.”

“The equipment we have here is state of the art and equivalent to what you might find down the road at the Royal Free Hospital. We’re easy to get hold of,

we want to be a resource for you so if you have questions, perhaps not sure how to manage a case, or whether a case is appropriate for referral, it’s not hard to get in touch with us.”

London Vet Specialists are now open to take cases. Contact Client Services Manager Claire Needham on 0207 4330155 or by email

Visit for more information.


A first for London: complete-service veterinary referral centre launches in the capital

London’s pets and their owners now have the benefit of access to consultant veterinary treatment on their doorstep, thanks to a new state-of-the art facility. Instead of travelling many miles to see a specialist vet, the capital’s owners may now have their beloved pet referred to a local veterinary consultant, reducing stress, time and inconvenience all round.

London Vet Specialists (LVS) has opened its doors, led by senior surgeon and soft tissue specialist, Dr Janet Kovak McClaran, former head of the department of surgery at the world-renowned Animal Medical Center in New York. Dr Kovak McClaran leads a team of consultants specialising in internal medicine and surgery, diagnostic imaging, emergency and critical care, anaesthesia and analgesia, and minimally-invasive surgery. It is the first facility in the capital to offer a complete referral service under one roof.

The Belsize Park centre was set up to enable London-based vets to access expert help across key areas when referring their patients on for specialist care. Dr Kovak McClaran explains:

“When I was approached about setting up a referral centre servicing central and greater London, I was surprised a dedicated facility didn’t already exist. Previously, referring clinicians have had to send clients on long journeys outside of the capital, leading to patient stress and hassle and extra expense for the owners. Now, they have the reassurance of access to a highly-experienced secondary and tertiary level referral team on their doorstep.”

Patient and customer care is prioritised at LVS and is based on the acclaimed model used by Sydney’s SASH Vets (Small Animal Specialist Hospital). LVS Client Relations Manager Claire Newton helped to develop the SASH system, which concentrates on delivering the highest standards of patient care, alongside a dedicated support system for the client and referring vet. Ms Newton explains how the London Vet Specialists service works:

“From the very start of the referral process, customer care is prioritised. In this we consider that we have two customers; the first, the referring vet, who needs to feel that he or she has an integral role in the ongoing management of the case, and that his or her client is well looked after. Our second customer, the pet owner or client, needs to be looked after with compassion and respect, and have the ability to speak directly to the clinician in charge of their pet, at any point. Excellent two-way communication is key. We ensure that we listen and respond to the needs of both parties through every step of the customer journey.”

The LVS facility boasts a state-of-the-art surgical theatre, and the minimally-invasive surgery suite is one of only three in the UK.  An onsite CT scanner forms part of a full array of imaging equipment, operated by European Specialist in Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging, Dr Livia Benigni. The immediate interpretation of images makes for seamless patient investigation and negates the need for repeated patient anaesthetics.

Internal Medicine consultant Dr Kaye Gugich, together with board-certified Emergency and Critical Care Specialist Dr Adam Mugford, and Dr Karla Borland, complete the consultant team.

London Vet Specialists is the only facility in central London to offer a full-time specialist surgery facility alongside an emergency and critical care service. Emergency stabilisation and intensive care of the sickest of patients is available around the clock, with experienced clinicians and a nursing team ensuring continuous supervision, day or night. The LVS surgery team is also on call to the hospital overnight should specialist emergency surgery be required out of hours.

For more information on London Vet Specialists, or to speak to Ms Newton about referring a patient, visit, email, or telephone 0207 4330155.

Photos: Dr Janet Kovak McClaran, lead specialist; Claire Newton, Client Services Manager; the minimally-invasive surgical suite and the GE Brivio CT 385 scanner. High res versions of the images are available.


Free CPD for VPMA & SPVS members

Citation are offering VPMA & SPVS members free attendance at their “HR and Health & Safety fundamentals” seminars. They are CPD accredited and worth 2 hours of learning. Details of when and where can be found: Citation 2015 Seminars

New ISFM Course Teaches Can-Do Cattitude

They say that new skills are best learned by first seeing, then doing. That’s exactly what the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the veterinary division of cat charity International Cat Care, is aiming to do with its new cat and client skills training programme. “Developing Cattitude: A Feline-Friendly Approach to Cats and Their Owners” has been launched to help veterinary practices in developing a sensitive approach to cat handling, essential to the ISFM Cat Friendly Clinic programme, as well as delivering a five-star service to cat owners. The one-day seminar, delivered to a small group of attendees, is practically-focused and combines workshops, discussion and video-training techniques to help attendees see, learn and then repeat best practice back in their clinics.

The programme has been developed by ISFM together with customer service training provider Onswitch, and Feline Specialist and Co-Director of the Oxford Cat Clinic, Martha Cannon. Delivered on board Bertha the Onswitch training bus, the course is aimed at all veterinary practice staff who want to excel at cat care and decrease the stress of cats visiting or being hospitalised in their clinics.

ISFM Trustee and Veterinary Advisory Panel Member, Martha explains, “We wanted to develop a learning programme that took attendees right through a feline-specific customer journey, taking in all aspects: from the client’s first encounter with the clinic reception staff, to their experience in the waiting room, through their consultation with the vet or nurse, and critically, addressing the feline-friendly attitude and cat handling skills that every practice member should demonstrate. Getting every step right results in a calmer, less-stressed cat that is more likely to be brought for veterinary attention when it needs it.

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“Uniquely, we wanted this course to teach both the ‘soft’ skills of communication and customer care, alongside practical skills to be used every day. The small group focus and video-training platform proved ideal for this. We have filmed some of our lovely volunteer cats allowing themselves to be handled in common practice scenarios, while really paying attention to decreasing stressors: being coaxed/lifted out of baskets, undergoing gentle, stress-free clinical examinations, enjoying allo-grooming techniques, being held for (mocked-up) blood sampling and more. There is also a discussion on what to do when the cat isn’t happy, and the vet or nurse is under pressure for time. We know so much now about cat handling and what to avoid, that even those who have been practising for many years will benefit from this training.

“On the customer care side, Onswitch’s extensive video library of client feedback allows us to look at the needs of the cat owners themselves and we get real insight into what distinguishes one practice from another in their eyes.  We’ll send attendees home with extremely valuable insights that are easy-to-share with their practice colleagues and that they can get going with straight away. I’d encourage anyone who wants to really champion the care of cats within their practice to come along.”

The Developing Cattitude courses will commence on the 29th of July, with an initial run of three days in Milton Keynes, Huntingdon and Stafford. There are just 10 places available for each day, which delivers 5 hours of certifiable CPD.  The full programme can be viewed on, and booking is available online at The day costs £285 + VAT per person, and includes lunch, handouts and CPD certificates.