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President Appeals For New VBF Members

15 years ago

13th July, 2007 00h00

The Veterinary Benevolent Fund (VBF) is in a healthier financial position than it was a few years ago said Dr Lydia Brown, President of the VBF at its AGM on 12 July. She paid tribute to the stewardship of the Fund’s resources by its Honorary Treasurer, Mark Wharton, but said that the demands on the Fund are growing inexorably. “There was a 57% increase in the number of applications made to the VBF for support in 2006 compared with 2005. The Veterinary Surgeons’ Health Support Programme considered 39 new cases, the highest since 2003, and there was a 20% increase in the calls to Vet Helpline. “This year the VBF is also rolling out the recommendations of the Veterinary Support Working Party. These include designing a new website which will seek to provide information on all the support available to the profession and launching the branding of a veterinary support initiative at BVA Congress to make the profession more aware of what help exists for them.” Dr Brown said that new applicants to the Fund were younger and many would need support for much longer than before. She welcomed the contributions to the Fund from a number of veterinary bodies, and in particular the Veterinary Defence Society, and urged individual members of the profession to join the VBF. Dr Brown reminded the meeting that any legacies left to charity are free of inheritance tax. About the VBP The Veterinary Benevolent Fund (VBF) has three arms: the VBF, the Veterinary Surgeons Health Support Programme (VSHSP) and the Vet Helpline (VHL). The VBF was formed in 1978 by the amalgamation of the National Veterinary Benevolent and Mutual Defence Society (founded in 1865) and the Victoria Veterinary Benevolent Fund (established in 1897). The VSHSP was established in 1999 and the VHL in 1991. The three organisations merged on 1 January 2005 under the name VBF. The Fund provides financial and other assistance to deserving veterinary surgeons in need who are on the RCVS registers and to their deserving relatives or dependents. The VHL provides a helpline for veterinary surgeons and their relatives or dependents, undergraduate veterinary students and veterinary nurses who seek help on health or other social problems. The VSHSP helps combat problems of alcohol and drug abuse or addiction in the veterinary profession, and provides guidance and assistance in obtaining appropriate treatment and support throughout the recovery process. Veterinary surgeons face the same problems as all other members of society such as financial difficulties, ill health, addiction etc, which may affect their professional performance. In addition, there are specific stresses associated with their work, such as professional isolation and a culture in which it is difficult to admit to having a problem, disillusionment with practice after a long academic struggle, euthanasia of a client’s loved pet or ones which could be cured because the owner can't pay etc. Recent work has shown that the veterinary profession has the highest proportional mortality rate from suicide of any occupational group, and it has been suggested that this is associated with access to the relevant drugs. Veterinary surgeons are often reluctant to acknowledge or discuss their problems with colleagues in case they are reported to the profession’s regulatory body the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. This is where the VBF may be able to help. The VBF is a charitable organization with a network of volunteers drawn predominantly from the veterinary profession. The Fund assists 50 beneficiaries by the provision of regular grants or one-off payments, and by gift hampers at Christmas. In addition, the Fund owns four bungalows in Dorset providing accommodation for deserving veterinary surgeons, their widows or dependents. The VSHSP has helped more than 230 veterinary surgeons overcome their addiction problems and the VHL has taken calls from over 1,200 people since it was set up. VETERINARY BENEVOLENT FUND Contact: Vanessa Kearns T: 020 7908 6385 F: 020 7980 4890 E: W:

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