The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency has welcomed the findings of the independent Surveillance Advisory Group, set up to recommend a future delivery model for veterinary surveillance in England and Wales.

The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) has welcomed the findings of the independent Surveillance Advisory Group (SAG), set up to recommend a future delivery model for veterinary surveillance in England and Wales.

Surveillance Advisory Group Final ReportAHVLA chief executive Catherine Brown praised the SAG for doing “an outstanding job against a tight timescale” and said: “AHVLA welcomes all of the recommendations of the group, particularly the emphasis on improving the surveillance outcomes that we achieve, while also offering improved value for money and delivering better access to the surveillance service for a wider range of farmers and private veterinarians.”

The SAG’s final report sets out three core recommendations regarding the generic design criteria to be used for the design of a new model for the delivery of surveillance in England and Wales. These are:

  1. To establish a tiered surveillance network that provides 95% of holdings and animals with access to a post-mortem facility or collection point within an hour’s travel time (up from the current 50%).  
  2. To establish species-based centres of expertise providing in depth pathology and disease investigation services and a focus for surveillance information management, analysis and dissemination.
  3. To consider the roles and responsibilities of existing AHVLA veterinary staff, with a view to establishing different tiers of expertise.

Further supplementary recommendations include:

  • Exploring options for increasing diagnostic service submission rates,
  • Establishing a cost-effective collection service,
  • Allowing universities, other relevant institutions, vets and others to contribute to and benefit from the surveillance network,
  • Implementing a post mortem examination training program for private veterinary surgeons.

Ms Brown said: “The recommendations of the group have set the scene for a progressive move towards a sustainable surveillance system. It gives us a clear direction of travel, and while it does not give us all the answers, we will be able to build on the recommendations.

AHVLA chief executive Catherine Brown. Image courtesy DEFRA.“We have some big challenges ahead in terms of implementation, but the service we are able to provide in the future will be greatly improved, as we aim to improve very significantly on our current 50% geographical coverage.”

She said: “In designing an implementation plan one size will not fit all, and we will look at the needs of each area in terms of accessing surveillance and the best ways of meeting them, including the areas that have not been well served in the past.”
 
She added: “The group reviewed a wide range of evidence and came up with ideas we had not previously identified, which will underpin real improvements to surveillance for the future.”

According to Ms Brown, a high level implementation plan is currently being developed by AHVLA. Further stakeholder engagement is planned during the summer on implementation options.

  • The SAG aimed to ensure stakeholders were given a clear voice in shaping the future surveillance model by asking independent veterinary surgeons and livestock keepers to have their say through an online consultation. More than 1,200 took part.

 

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