vet disease monitor fears

Specialists’ concern over vet disease monitoring

Prospect, the union for 2,000 specialist staff in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs today (Thursday) says the decision to end post-mortem examinations at eight Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency sites is premature.

Prospect national secretary Geraldine O’Connell said: “We raised a number of concerns and challenged a number of assumptions with the agency, primarily because the strategy, which has not yet been tried and tested, relies on external providers agreeing to undertake a much more significant role in post-mortems and surveillance. The decision is also linked to the requirement for AHVLA to save money from its surveillance budget.

“Prospect supports the use of private veterinarians to supplement information obtained from post-mortem activities on farm animals for monitoring the potential spread of disease. This already takes place. However, we must have an appropriate method of data capture for how all of this information is recorded in order to successfully monitor the potential spread of disease.

Post-mortem examinations (PMEs) will end at Aberystwyth, Langford, Luddington, Newcastle, Preston, Sutton Bonington and Truro from April 2014, and Winchester from summer 2015 and they will no longer have veterinary surveillance teams. Restructuring plans for the remaining regional laboratories have also been announced.

The decision to cease PMEs at these sites is a result of the government’s surveillance advisory group, following a public consultation on the provision of scanning surveillance in England and Wales.

Prospect is concerned that all AHVLA facilities, with the exception of Winchester, are scheduled to close from April 2014 without any replacement facilities or providers who can carry out statutory post-mortems. There are approximately 30 roles at risk following the closure of these facilities.