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Minister hears of BVA's concerns about pace of change at AHVLA

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CONCERN about the future of the AHVLA's rationalisation of laboratory services in England and Wales was expressed by the BVA President, Carl Padgett, in his speech at the Association's annual dinner in London on March 6.

Addressing guests who included Caroline Spelman, the Secretary of State at Defra, Mr Padgett said that the AHVLA's announcement of its plans last autumn ‘came as a bit of a surprise’ to the BVA. The Association was well aware of the financial pressures facing the Government and its agencies. It also understood the need to think and work in different ways and was prepared to work with the Government to find the right solutions. However, he said, ‘We sometimes struggle to understand the mixed messages. First AHVLA announced significant changes to the veterinary laboratory network, and then it announced a review group to look at surveillance. This seemed to be a clear case of putting the cart before the horse.’

He urged Defra and the AHVLA to slow down, give the review group time to consider the issues and listen to its recommendations. ‘Decisions made now will impact on our future ability to deliver that first line of defence [against disease],’ he said. ‘And if we lose the infrastructure of our veterinary surveillance system it will almost certainly be impossible to rebuild.’

On proposals to procure TB testing and other Official Veterinarian services by tendering, the BVA President warned the AHVLA and Defra about the law of unintended consequences. ‘Not only would the wrong system impact on our ability to carry out vital work in the fight against bovine TB; it could affect the whole future of farm veterinary services and …

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