• Congress 2017, VPMA
  • Congress 2017, VPMA
  • Congress 2017, VPMA
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  • Petplan Veterinary Awards Practice Manager of the Year Winner 2017 - Anne Corson

    Petplan Practice Manager of the Year Winner, Anne Corson from Pennard Vets in Tonbridge, Kent demonstrates the type of work she carries out in a normal working day. Watch the Video.


    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
    secretariat@vpma.co.uk or visit http://events-by-vpma.co.uk/

  • RCVS Strategic Plan 2017/19

    Leadership, innovation and culture change focus for three-year strategic plan

    The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has published its Strategic Plan for 2017 to 2019, with a focus on developing leadership within the veterinary professions, encouraging innovation, and further extending a learning culture as a counter to the ‘blame’ culture that exists in some parts of the profession.

    The Strategic Plan was developed throughout the course of 2016 with input from a number of stakeholders including RCVS Council and Veterinary Nurses Council, key committees and College staff. Most importantly, the evidence for change came from the wide and deep consultations that took place within Vet Futures, the joint RCVS and British Veterinary Association project that aims to help the veterinary profession prepare for and shape its future.

    This process led to the development of five key ambitions for the next three years:

    • Learning culture: to establish the extent to which a ‘blame’ culture exists in the veterinary professions, the role that the RCVS may play in it, the impact it may have on the welfare of vets, veterinary nurses, owners and their animals, and how we can move towards a culture that has a greater focus on learning and personal development.

    • Leadership and innovation: to become a Royal College with leadership and innovation at its heart, and support this creatively and with determination.

    • Continuing to be a First-rate Regulator: continuing to build on the foundations that have already been laid, we will work to ensure that the legislation and regulations that support us are not only fit for purpose today, but enable us to make the UK veterinary professions, and those allied professionals who work alongside them, the best that they can be into the future.

    • Global reach: in part a response to Brexit and the need to be more externally-facing but with an emphasis to improve animal health and welfare on an international basis by raising veterinary standards overseas, contributing to the One Health agenda and ensuring that our regulation keeps pace in a global market.

    • Our service agenda: to continue to build on our service agenda to ensure that people not only find interactions with us to be efficient and fair, but seek out and take up opportunities to engage further.

    Nick Stace, RCVS CEO, said: “The hallmark of our 2014 to 2016 Strategic Plan was getting the basics right by clarifying our identity, improving our core functions, setting out our service agenda and strengthening our foundations. The plan gave us a firm foundation to build upon and improved levels of confidence in the College from stakeholders which has allowed us to be more ambitious and outward-looking with this new plan.

    “Within the new plan there are challenging ambitions and stretching objectives that address some of the big issues affecting the veterinary team, whether that’s playing a more global role post-Brexit, the importance of embracing new technology, or the pressing need to consider culture change within the profession to ensure it continues to grow and learn.

    “I would ask each member of the profession to take a look at the Strategic Plan and I am very happy to receive comments and feedback on the plan by email at nick@rcvs.org.uk.”

    To download the Strategic Plan please visit www.rcvs.org.uk/publications

  • VPMA / SPVS Congress 2017

    Join us at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport from the 26th to 28th January 2017.

    From behaviour economics to the ultimate front of house experience; resilience to understanding mindsets; practical H&S to managing social media, with speakers from home and abroad; within and outside the profession - you don't want to miss this event.

    Incorporating the New to Management Stream: whether you're a head nurse, a lead vet in a clinical role, an administrator or client care team leader, you probably have some management elements to your job; or are you moving into management but finding it a bit daunting?  This stream is pitched at introductory level.

    For full details about Congress, click here.


Congress 2017

spvs vpma logo


Join us at Celtic Manor Resort, Newport

from 26-28 January 2017

for the VPMA-SPVS Congress 2017.



Lecture Programme

From behavioural economics to the ultimate front of house experience; resilience to understanding mindsets; practical H&S to managing social media, with speakers from home and abroad; within and outside the profession

  • Andy McCann, performance coach to high profile business leaders, Olympians and World Champions. He is joined by one of his mentees, Ryan Jones, ex Wales Rugby captain
  • Brenda Tassava, a veterinary practice management consultant from the USA brings a wealth of experience in leadership, business and HR
  • Mind Matters, in partnership with RCVS, chaired by Dr Radha Modgil, GP and co-host of Radio 1 ‘The Surgery’.
  • The popular Equine stream with lectures on personality profiling, marketing and pricing… all case study led
  • A repeat of the popular New to Management stream, led by VPMA
  • Brand new for 2017: New to Ownership, for those considering setting up from scratch or taking up a partnership
  • A stream for the reception, focusing on customer care
  • Richard Dixon, CEO of Vets Now, ‘in conversation’ with Martin Whiting

…and much, much more. Click here for the full programme and details on the lectures confirmed to date.


The exhibition will move to a new hall, with more space for delegates to chill out while they meet a wide range of suppliers with advice on marketing, management and business development. Click here for details of our Sponsors and Exhibitors.

Social Programme

Click here  for details of our popular Thursday and Friday night social events.






Annual General Meeting 2017

The Annual General Meeting of the VPMA will be held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport
Thursday 26th January 2017 at 5.00pm in the Denbigh Suite.

Full Members must advise the Company Secretary in writing of any business
they wish to be raised by them at the AGM at least 28 days prior to the meeting.





SPVS VPMA Congress 2016

Celtic Manor Resort, Newport: 28th – 30th January 2016

Where the Practice Team Comes Together

SPVS/VPMA Congress 2016 hit the 500 delegate mark

500 Practice Managers, Practice Owners and others with an interest in the business and management of Vet Practice attended the third combined SPVS/VPMA Congress on 29/30 January 2016 at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales.

Congress was opened by Alastair Campbell, communications strategist, writer, mental health campaigner and son of a Yorkshire vet. ‘Supervet’, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick took questions from the congress audience covering the impact of his television programme to how vets can work with clients to ensure treatment choices are in the best interests of pet and owner.

A stream on Mental Health in partnership with RCVS Mind Matters Initiative was chaired by Radio 4 presenter, Claudia Hammond and challenged stigma around mental health within the profession with contributions from vets and a practice manager who had first hand experience.   Other sessions covered leadership, the art of pricing, and what vets can learn from the NHS.  Rick DeBowes, from Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, wowed audiences with his high energy sessions on leadership, as did Bash Halow, also from the US with his marketing and social media insights.

Congress attendees were able to meet with 63 leading suppliers, many launching new business and management-related products and services.

The following quotes from delighted delegates and exhibitors suggest that this event, where the practice team comes together, is now firmly positioned as one of the most popular in the UK veterinary calendar:

As a first time attendee, I was impressed by the breadth of themes…. high profile speakers gave a really professional feel

Alastair Campbell, as opening speaker was phenomenal…. the lectures were thought provoking and interesting

Best two days of the year again. A chance to bond with our practice management team.

Friday ball was excellent … and an opportunity to catch up with old friends

Coming to Congress was the best decision of the year so far….. I spent the whole day in the exhibition and made some great business contacts for my new practice

Photographs are now available to view and download at www.spvs-vpma-events.co.uk  along with slides from the congress speakers.  For further details, call Keystone on 01453 872731.