Commons select committee EFRACom is holding an inquiry into veterinary lab closures and changes to bovine TB testing in England and is urging feeback from farm vets

The Parliamentary select committee tasked with scrutinising DEFRA’s affairs is calling for veterinary opinions on the much-maligned issues of bovine tuberculosis testing and AHVLA’s decision to close lab services in England.

Following months of speculation, in September 2011 AHVLA announced its plans to close lab services at eight out of 16 regional surveillance sites across the UK by March 2013.

English sites due to be rationalised include Truro, Langford, Luddington, Preston and Winchester

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRACom) has now decided to hold an evidence session on the two issues in the new year and interested parties should submit written evidence by the second week of January.

The Welsh Affairs Committee is also taking evidence on the rationalisation of AHVLA laboratory services in Wales, covering sites at Aberystwyth and Carmarthen.

EFRACom agriculture specialist Rebecca Ross told vetsonline her group was interested in the topics as they could usher “radical changes” to how AHVLA operates.

“Particularly with the rationalisation of lab services there is concern that there will be a loss of service in rural areas and a loss of expertise,” she said.

“EFRACom took this up with the Secretary of State in Autumn 2011 and we felt we wanted to hold a full enquiry into the issue.”

Calling on practitioners and veterinary bodies to contribute to the enquiry she added: “It is absolutely critical we get feedback from large animal vets – the strength of the enquiry will be based on the feedback we get.

“We’re particularly interested in issues of test turn-around time and the ability to turn them around in the event of a disease outbreak and the value of the diagnostic services.”

BCVA president Andrew PraillBCVA president Andrew Praill welcomed the EFRACom enquiry and said BCVA and BVA would be issuing a joint response.

“It is difficult to predict what will come out of this procedure but it would be hoped that the perceived benefits of the developments that AHVLA propose are properly balanced against the risks, before final irrevocable decisions are made,” he told vetsonline.

  • Evidence should be submitted to the committee by January 9 2012 and more details of the enquiry and requirements for submissions can be found on the EFRACom website.

 

  • Information about the Welsh Affairs Committee’s work can be found on the committee’s website here
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