The BVA has given a “cautious welcome” to the merger of Animal Health and the VLA.

The BVA has given a “cautious welcome” to the merger of Animal Health and the VLA.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced the move, claiming it would “bring together their services, expertise and scientific capability” and “improve our resilience and create a strong organisation that provides a range of services from on farm advice and emergency response to the world-class laboratory work and science for which we are rightly recognised”.

BVA president Bill ReillyIn response, BVA president Bill Reilly said: “On the face of it there could be significant benefits in merging these two key animal health organisations.

“Already, at local and national levels, the two agencies are required to work closely and if done properly we could have one body that is completed committed to animal health.
 
“However, every veterinary surgeon will want reassurance that the merger will not simply become another way to cut costs by reducing the number of people working on disease surveillance and research.

“It is vital that both organisations continue to deliver under the new body.
 
“The merger could have an impact on responsibility and cost sharing plans, the tendering exercise for official veterinarian (OV) work, and the future of animal health delivery in the devolved administrations.

“The BVA is therefore calling for a wide consultation on how the merged organisation will work to ensure the best for the veterinary profession, farming community and all other interested organisations.”

Mrs Spelman said the merger of Animal Health and the VLA would go ahead shortly, “with as little disruption to staff and customers as possible”.

She added: “A single chief executive for the new agency will be appointed this summer.”

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