Thursday, January 8, 2015 - Mark Humph Mark Humph

Working as a vet can sometimes be compared to walking a tight rope! The Veterinary Benevolent Fund (VBF) is there to provide a safety net, when members of the veterinary profession need assistance. The VBF can do this in many ways, including:

  • Vet Helpline provides an empathetic listening and email help service for everyone in the profession to discuss their problems with someone who knows the profession and understands what they maybe experiencing.
  • The VBF provides financial and other assistance to vets and their families. 
  • The Veterinary Surgeons’ Health Support Programme (VSHSP) provides professional help for mental health problems including drug and alcohol addiction and provides guidance and assistance in obtaining appropriate treatment and support throughout the recovery process.
  • The Vetlife website at provides information on the support available to the profession from a wide variety of sources.

Vets face the same problems as all other members of society - financial difficulties, ill health, depression and addictions – but in addition, there are specific stresses associated with their work, which can result in both physical and mental difficulties.

BEVA’s recent research done in collaboration with the Institute of Health and Wellbeing and the University of Glasgow on the physical risk that equine vets experience at work resonated with the VBF. This charity thas been supporting vets in situations like that for many years, but until recently the problem was not well quantified.

The study has confirmed the fact that equine veterinary work is physically risky, but it was alarming to find it was the most hazardous civilian profession.  Despite all efforts, it is never going to be possible to make veterinary work completely safe, but data like this can help us understand risk. Serious injury at work can have consequences beyond those experienced physically, which in itself can be extreme. It is something that affected vets are familiar with, but sadly the psychological aftermath of such injuries can have a big impact on veterinary working lives. Needing to put yourself in risky situations to do your job with only limited ability to mitigate that risk can be stressful too. The support that VBF offers is vital and regrettably more than one injured equine vet has recently had to contact the charity for help.

The VBF is reliant on donations to fund it’s work. The majority of donations to VBF are either from vets kindly give regular support by direct debit or from vet practices that add a donation to VBF on their VDS renewal forms. There are some very generous practices, who have kindly given a small percentage of their profits as a donation directly to the VBF and other individuals have donates fees from many different activities ranging from running sponsored marathons, to donating fees from working at horse shows or other equine events. The other very welcome source of funds is in the form of legacies, so remember the VBF, if you are writing your will.

Please can we ask BEVA members to remember the VBF, both if they need support, as well as very deserving veterinary charity. Find out more at

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