AGM Liverpool
14 October, 2018

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Liverpool, (start 14.00)

 Stuart Marston

1  Apologies for absence: Jack Hoare : Wendy McCrandles : Chris Almond : Helen Bragg : Sonya Leggett : Richard Allport : Mark Elliot : Roger Meacock

2  Minutes of the last AGM: These were taken as read. Proposed by Sarah Fox-Chapman seconded by Ilse Pedler - all in favour.

3  Matters arising from the minutes: There were no matters arising.

4  Election of new members: No applications had been received.

5  Presidents address - Chris Day: Chris said that it had been an extremely hectic year for all those on the committee. All the committee had worked very hard on the Association’s behalf, and he thanked them for their huge effort. He mentioned the marches and the petition in response to the RCVS statement. History had been made. 

There had been frequent committee meetings - for several months weekly and these had accomplished a lot. He also mentioned the support that had been given by the wider membership and the massive contribution and ongoing effort by members of the public and the support groups on Facebook. He would be meeting with the new president of the RCVS with Ilse and hoped that this would be productive.

He was sure that we had held our position and the RCVS were aware that we would defend our corner. To that end the Association had engaged the services of a barrister to advise and if necessary act on the Association’s behalf. He mentioned that the first of the planned ‘Regional Meetings’ had been hosted by Barbara Jones in Shropshire and apparently well-received.

Geoff Johnson has offered to host the next. He proposed a vote of thanks to Malene and Phil. He endorsed members’ willingness to continue to provide excellence in veterinary homeopathy and, as the RCVS Oath states: welfare of patients must be considered ‘above all’.

6  Secretary’s report – Stuart Marston: This has been a particularly busy and somewhat stressful year for the committee as you will have heard from Chris. Our president Chris has had a baptism of fire since his inauguration and I would like to record my personal thanks, along with those of the Association, to him for his support, and his tireless efforts and enthusiasm this last year.

His appointment was absolutely opportune (although he may not agree!) and the Association could not be in more capable hands. Thanks are also particularly due to Ilse and Malene who between them have taken a large share in the campaign and have invested hundreds of hours on our behalf. You just need to look at the website and our Facebook page to see the amount of effort that has gone in.

Other members of the committee, Geoff, Jane , Pete Barbara, Wendy, and Mark, have all had significant input in several areas so the load has been shared. My thanks to all of them too. This committee is strong, determined and – forgive the pun - committed, to making sure that homeopathy remains available to patients as it always has been, practised by dedicated professionals with the best welfare of the patients at heart.

The committee has held regular Skype meetings and sent dozens of emails in our efforts to support homeopathy’s (and other complementary therapies) position in the face of the RCVS statement. The main difficulty has been attempting to get the RCVS to engage with us in a meaningful manner. Their insistence that nothing had changed despite their statement beggared belief, but that was the position that they stuck to whatever question or whatever the argument we put forward.

A few members were so intimidated that they no longer offered homeopathy as a direct consequence of the statement. In point of fact nothing has actually changed practically at all, but fear is a powerful tool, and fear is what the RCVS were and are using. We must not give in to this. Chris mentioned the fact that we have engaged a barrister to help us with the potential legal issues that may arise with the RCVS statement. The committee judged this appointment to be worth the investment because the Association will need to have all the necessary arguments and information ready if (or when) the RCVS attempt to officially ban the use of complementary medicine by amending the code of conduct.

You can all help by sending cases, getting clients to send testimonials and responding to requests to write to MP’s, the RCVS, BVA, BSAVA etc. This is a numbers game and we need to show that we have them.

Our members of the public supporters have been immensely helpful in this regard as you will hear. Of late things have died down somewhat in some part I suspect to the change in RCVS president. We have hopes that she will have a more open approach.

Overall I think we have held our position and at the very least have made the RCVS and other veterinary organisations aware that we are prepared to defend homeopathy robustly.Unfortunately the very excellent Mailchimps sent out by Geoff have fallen foul of the new regulations and we can no longer send them out which is a great pity. The number of ‘subscribers’ that opted out was quite small considering that they were sent to about 4000 email addresses. I hope you all received them or at least have viewed them on the new web site.

The spring meeting did go ahead despite Liz Thompson cancelling and the appalling weather. A select group watched the Just One Drop film and listened to a presentation on some new natural compounds showing promise in the treatment of cancer among other illness states. The cancer compound has since been made in homeopathic potency by Freeman’s and is available in 6c and 30c. I wrote an article on this and all the details are in that. The good news was that it was held at the Faculty we did not incur much in the way of cost! I may organise another for next year but I will be canvassing to see how much support there is for it so look out for an email.

There has been a steady stream of enquiries for treatment from the public, and where necessary there have been consultations by phone and Skype. Some have been from Europe and some have been of dubious origin!

This is the first time we have had a joint conference with the Faculty and we look forward to the feedback from those that have attended-albeit from a significantly smaller number than we usually have. Wendy will speak about next year’s conference later in the meeting. I hope everyone agrees that the new on-line magazine has exceeded expectations, and continues to do so under Phil and Malene’s stewardship. Our thanks to them both. Content as usual is required so do your best to help.

7  Treasurers Report - Wendy McGrandles. Read by SM :Treasurer Report Oct 2018.

At end of financial year Dec 2017 BAHVS had a very healthy balance of circa £23K thanks in part to a generous donation off £5K from Eleanor Marbury and donations from other membersAlthough a healthy fighting fund the last 9 months have seen numerous unusual expenses mainly legal fees and the new website which has now brought our current bank balance to around £9K The crowd funding campaign has brought in an additional £8700 and that is not included as yet in the balance as it has been ring-fenced in a separate account until further notice of any other legal feesConference 2017 ran at a loss of approximately £2600 as unfortunately sponsorship was a lot lower at only £1340 (sponsorship for previous conference had been over £5000) Membership is standing at 56 of which only 41 are fully paid up UK members. The organisation is continuing to shrink.

My synopsis would be that the financial accounts are in reasonably good health depending on what future demands will be made on them. With fewer members there will be less money from subscriptions and I think it is time to debate whether we still want to continue with BAHVS members also being members of IAVH and paying £30 of their subscription to IAVH annually.

Conference costs have to be carefully controlled or additional sponsorship sought - not easy with small membership. I am organising the 2019 conference and will start looking for some assistance soon for a sponsorship team. There was some discussion on whether the situation – vis a vis BAHVS and the IAVH - should change. The consensus was that despite some reservations we need to have political involvement. It is not enough to just practise good homeopathy and hope the situation will resolve without it. It was important that the pressure on the various governments, regulators and the like was kept up, and IAVH had been instrumental in this. IAVH and ECH were quite united. It was agreed that BAHVS should try to support them.

8  IAVH report - Edward de Beukelaer. Read by SM: This will be my personal views of things at the end of being the president for 3 years. It feels to me that the IAVH was in the process of moving on from being more like a club of friends and colleagues talking about homeopathy to having an international presence on a number of platforms. We are now present in Eurocam (Brussels Lobby group to promote CAM to the EU).

This organisation is also creating good contact with the WHO. Therefore, the IAVH can though Eurocam also serve its non-European members.Our membership of the WVA (World Veterinary Association) gives us an existence amongst all other veterinary associations of the world.

Through this organisation, we have made good contacts with the World Veterinary Students organisation and it looks like one of their representatives will be at our Sofia meeting next month (we hope to see some of you there). Further, the future president of the WVA came to me in the street after the WVA board meeting saying that we should not give up our work because we have a very valuable message to bring for the profession.

We have been very busy in relation to the EU Veterinary Medicines regulation. This is much thanks to the amazing energy of Petra Weiermayer who used her experience, connections and bright mind to take us on this journey. Even though our efforts have not produced the outcome we would have liked, what we have achieved is that homeopathy has been discussed at the highest level in Brussels for days.

The various countries could not come to an agreement in relation to having homeopathy or not in the cascade and this has resulted in a regulation which is of very poor quality and may well prove to be an asset. In any case, the ‘antis’ did not manage to get rid of homeopathy. We are still finding out how to deal with the new regulation.

What this journey certainly has done is raised the status of the IAVH in the eyes of other and given us a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Further to the international nature of homeopathy: next year we will have our board meeting in Colombia at the occasion of a South-America conference organised by Marcella Muñoz. It is the last weekend of October. Put this in your diaries!

With regards to the Sofia meeting next month, the theme is how to integrate homeopathy into modern medicine. This is an important theme because in my meetings at Eurocam I can see how the subject of integrative medicine, where the patient becomes the decision maker, is becoming more and more important subject in medicine all over the world. Homeopathy will be able to use this Trojan horse to gain the place it needs. We will also be taking part in a concerted effort with our human colleagues to create a benchmark for the education in homeopathy that will be published by the WHO. The bar will be set quite high. This will be another way how homeopathy will be able to put itself on the map and show how it is a serious type of medicine.

There have been recently complaints by some of the board members that we (the IAVH) do not put enough time in talking ‘homeopathy’. Indeed, most of the noise coming from the officers in the last 3 years was to do with the change of the running of the organisation, the political work, relating to the anxiety and the attacks and the participation in meetings with other organisations. It would indeed be good to see more ‘homeopathy’ happening in the IAVH. It actually is a necessity. Here I ask you as members of the IAVH are to participate in the homeopathy part of our organisation: use the forum, participate in the MMHV and send articles to the MAG. That is how you all can help us.

9  Report on Response to RCVS statement – Ilse Pedler. The veterinary homeopathic community generally and the BAHVS committee members in particular mounted a vigorous response to the new RCVS position statement on CAM issued in Nov 2017. An immediate letter writing campaign began which included letters to the president of the RCVS Stephen May and CEO Lizzie Locket asking for retraction of the statement and correct consultation. Letters were also sent to local MP’s, BVA reps and even HRH Prince Charles. Liaison also occurred with the Faculty of Homeopathy and Peter Gregory was invaluable in coordinating the response from them and was responsible for writing some incisive and searching letters.

Other homeopathic organisations including homeopathic pharmacies were alerted to the position statement and their support enlisted. A Facebook group was formed by some enthusiastic supporters of homeopathy for animals and an on-line petition was started by one of them. (This has gathered over 20,000 signatures). They had amazing energy and strength of feeling, which was quite difficult to direct at times but they brought the issue into the public domain more effectively than we could have done on our own and had a huge impact on social media counteracting misinformation posted by the detractors of homeopathy. They were so active on FB and Twitter that the anti-homeopathy lobby were I think quite taken aback. Malene Jørgensen deserves special mention as she spent up to 10 hours a day on FB in the early days encouraging and guiding the supporters. Other people who played an active part on social media were Roger Meacock, Mark Carpenter and Chris Day and their support and input was I know greatly appreciated by the supporters.

The FB group crystallised into a core of dedicated individuals who set up a separate website CAM4Animals which acted as a place to get the latest information and helped to coordinate the campaign. Catherine O’Driscoll produced a postcard, which could be sent to the RCVS and was a quick and effective way of complaining about the statement. This was sent out to her many supporters and vets and totalled several thousands in the end. This had the effect of deluging the RCVS with mail and together with the e-mail complaints practically brought the RCVS headquarters to a standstill.

At the same time legal enquiries were initiated into the validity of the RCVS statement and if a judicial review could be sought. The help of a barrister was employed to explore all the legal angles. A judicial review was determined to be unwise and risky but defamation cases were thought to be a possibility and these are ongoing. I and Elaine Downs, one of the FB supporters organized a crowd funding campaign and this is also ongoing. A flyer was also produced which details the case and gives links to the petition and crowd funding campaign.

An initial protest march to the RCVS was organised in January and about 50 vets and supporters presented Stephen May and Lizzie Lockett with the petition as it was at the time. We refused to enter the RCVS headquarters as we felt it was going to be used as a publicity event by the RCVS and instead invited Stephen May and Lizzie Lockett outside where they spent an uncomfortable half an hour being asked probing questions by vets and the amazing supporters we had with us at the time. While all this was going on, The FB page and website were being redesigned by Malene Jørgensen and Phil Barker with input from several of us but the majority of work was done by them and I think we all agree that our new on-line presence is professional and engaging and they deserve a huge vote of thanks. Thanks also to everyone who contributed ideas, information and articles.

A larger protest march was organized in April and around 200 protesters marched on RCVS headquarters. We were joined by David Tredinnick MP who gave a rousing speech before we set off. Special mention to Lise Hansen and her boss Andrew Prentis, who helped rally supporters and appeared on London radio to support the cause.

We were scheduled for a 15 minutes meeting with Stephen May and Lizzie Lockett but Peter Gregory, Chris Day and I ended up staying for 45 minutes. A frank exchange of views took place and a report of the meeting appeared in the magazine. As well as all this direct activity, Geoff Johnson planned and carried out a series of e-mail newsletters, the Cutting Edge initiative, which were sent to several thousand veterinary e-mail addresses. These newsletters carried a series of articles, which not only included information on homeopathy but gave an alternative view to other veterinary topics including neutering and preventative veterinary products. Mark Elliot was also instrumental in providing a lot of the material and Sara Fox-Chapman’s well balanced and probing article on neutering was the basis of one of the newsletters. These articles can be viewed on the website.

Chris Day and I also wrote several articles for animal related magazines and websites. So where has all this activity got us?

We provided a robust response to the RCVS position statement, which they were unprepared for. I know RCVS headquarters were overwhelmed at times and their director of communications certainly had a stressful 6 months.

We achieved a meeting with the RCVS, the CAM4Animals group also achieved a meeting with them and we are liaising with them to formulate a response to the RCVS [statement].

A subcommittee has been set up so we can continue to work closely together –meetings are being held every 2 months. We had the effect of quietening our detractors,

Danny Chambers and others, were I believe, unprepared for the strength of feeling that was shown and now are less active on social media with their comments. We have a team, which monitors their posts and responds immediately to them on FB and Twitter. It brought the homeopathic organisations closer together and showed how we can coordinate our efforts, including the first protest marches to the RCVS in their history.

We have a new FB page and website. We are working more actively and in a more coordinated way as a committee. 

We publicised homeopathy via the campaign, petition and magazine articles and the Cutting Edge e-mails. The BVA was also planning a review of its policy statement and I think worried by the response to the RCVS invited BAHVS to contribute. This was done effectively by Chris Day, Peter Gregory and Rachel Roberts of the HRI and believe resulted in a more diluted statement than would otherwise have been produced.

Where do we go from here? We need to keep up the momentum with the CAM4Animals group as they will be able to exert more pressure than we ever can on our own.

We need to carry on publicising the benefits of homeopathy. We need to reach out to vets and vet students to provide them with a balanced view. We need to carry on rebutting the comments of our detractors.

We need to be aware of scientific research on homeopathy and physics and contribute to studies like the one Geoff is carrying out into Osteosarcoma at the moment, in order to be able to have some positive evidence to present in our arguments.  

We need to open dialogue more successfully with other CAM vets. They were disappointingly unwilling to engage with the homeopaths to any great extent in the campaign. We need new energy from the membership on how to keep the campaign alive and help the committee with specific jobs.

We need help with monitoring the web for developments in the conventional world regarding attacks on CAM, which could be used as evidence for the use of CAM. An example is the newly published report about the Australian case and the NHMRC admitting that they did not use accepted scientific methods!

10 Faculty Report - Peter Gregory. Peter reported that the Faculty should have a role with BAHVS in defending homeopathy. We now have Barbara as the Faculty Representative for the Association along with Peter as the Veterinary Dean so we have two people at the council. He said that his letter had finally been published in the Veterinary Record – albeit on their website. He had also sent the RCVS statement to the VR.

The Faculty also had a dwindling membership and the joining rules had been altered. There was now an affiliate category which meant that many Indian doctors could now apply to the Faculty for membership. This would improve the finances which also were low. This would almost certainly require a rise in the membership fees of approximately 10% if the Faculty was to remain viable. The journal may follow BAHVS in going digital.

The death of Peter Fisher had been a real body blow and was difficult to handle. He had spoken to the VMD (Veterinary Medicines Directorate) and had been assured that it had no plans to alter the homeopathic medicines regulations.

11  Conference 2019 - Wendy McCrandles given by SM. BAHVS Conference 2019. The venue is the Stirling Court Hotel within the beautiful grounds of Stirling University campus.

Stirling is known as the “Gateway to the Highlands” and is a wee city with a big heart. It punches well above its weight for historical attractions and spectacular scenery. The dates for your diary are Friday 14th-Sunday 16th June. Accommodation will be available in the Stirling Court Hotel but there is also an option of student accommodation on campus which will be cheaper. Details of how to book accommodation will be available on the website once finalised.

Watch the website for further details regarding speakers and I hope to have the booking details finalised by January with costs etc. One of our main speakers for the conference is Shelley Epstein who has agreed to join us once again and share a lifetime of experience in Homeopathy. If you haven't listened to Shelley before you are in for a treat.

I will announce additional speakers in the next couple of months and would like some members to once again volunteer to add their own experiences during the weekend.

12  Conference 2020 - Geoff Johnson. Geoff was seeking impressions on the success and enjoyment of the conference in regard to the fact that it was with the Faculty. The object was to canvass opinions from members on repeating this in 2020. He said he was prepared to join the organising committee for that if the consensus was ‘yes’. The meeting was broadly in favour of having a joint conference but Geoff would put a post on BlueSky to get the views of the membership as a whole.

13  AOB There was none. Meeting ended at 2.45 pm.

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