Say no to bullying in the veterinary profession

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In this months Veterinary Record (Oct 2020) we read the heart breaking stories of alleged bullying and harassment from Edinburgh Vet School. 

At the centre of these allegations is the Head of the vet school David Argyle, who is also Junior Vice President (JVP) of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the professions governing body in the U.K.

The scale of the allegations potentially speak to a wider culture of abuse of power within the veterinary profession, and we (the undersigned) are calling for the RCVS to require that David Argyle steps down from his role as JVP of the RCVS, on the basis that allegations of this scale are wholly incompatible with a position of leadership within the profession.

The high rate of mental health difficulties experienced within our profession is well documented, with a risk factor for suicide of up to four times that of other professions. The foundation for improving the situation has to be confidence in those in positions of leadership within our profession. David Argyle has lost that confidence and we believe is not the right person to be in a leadership role at the RCVS at this time. 

Clearly, the issue of workplace bullying within the veterinary profession is complex and there are no quick fixes. In order to stop work place bullying, we must however ensure that those leading our profession have the full confidence of its members to stand against this important issue, and unfortunately allegations of this magnitude are incompatible with that level of confidence.

We urge you in the strongest terms to consider the message that David Argyle’s position as JVP communicates to the members of the RCVS, and to consider whether this is the right time for him to be holding that position.