Last week saw the largest event in the diary of the Veterinary Industry with the annual British Small Animal Veterinary Congress in Birmingham. A trip to Congress has become a tradition that I look forward to each year.

Considering the relatively small size of the UK Veterinary industry, with practicing Vets in the whole of the UK totalling only about 18,000, it always amazes me to see the scale of the congress event.

Held over 4 days, Congress attracts around 8,500 delegates. Congress takes over the whole of the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham where over 300 lectures are held over the 4 days with lectures from key opinion leaders from across the world on all manner of clinical topics. It is essential that Vets maintain their knowledge to keep up with the rapidly changing clinical environment. With new medicines, equipment and thinking emerging all the time, congress is a vital source of information for the profession.

Lectures this year covered a huge range of topics of clinical relevance for Vets and Nurses. This year’s hot topics included a series of lectures on innovative techniques in fracture repair as well as new implants that have been developed for elbow replacement surgery.

There are a number of new treatment regimens for treating heart disease in dogs that rely on early diagnosis and so there were a number of interesting lectures on identifying dogs with heart problems early.

In addition to the lecture based scientific program, there is also a commercial exhibition which is held in the National Indoor Arena (NIA) which is next door to the ICC. A covered walkway links the ICC and the NIA and delegates tend to visit the exhibition between lectures and at lunch time. The commercial exhibition comprises over 300 stands where suppliers to the veterinary industry promote their wares. Everything from the latest laboratory and surgical equipment, to medicines, pet food, computer systems and X-ray machines are on display.

In the exhibition, I was particularly interested in equipment for key hole surgery. There have been a number of manufacturers who have developed new surgical equipment to allow minimally invasive surgery. This is an area of surgery that I am particularly interested in progressing. The equipment required to perform that type of surgery is a huge investment and Congress is a fantastic environment to compare different suppliers equipment and make important purchasing decisions.

Congress also has a very active social program with old friends meeting up each year to catch up. In the evening, it feels as though every hotel lobby and every bar in Birmingham is packed with Vets discussing their Practice and reminiscing with old University friends.

The Veterinary industry is a very friendly industry and Congress epitomises the profession with a tradition of mixing progressive clinical thinking, state of the art equipment and friendly camaraderie.

I am already looking forward to next year’s Congress.