BVA president John Blackwell welcomed the new veterinary science centre and innovations in disease surveillance in Wales, but warned that local vets need “to remain at the heart of official veterinarian services.”

Surveillance innovations praised at BVA Welsh dinner

Speaking at the BVA’s annual Welsh dinner, held at Cardiff’s City Hall on June 16, Mr Blackwell hailed the new Wales Veterinary Science Centre in Aberystwyth as something to celebrate, claiming: “This hub of veterinary excellence embeds the future of the profession in the here and now”

However, he added: “We also need to be realistic. For the centre to succeed the Welsh Government and the wider industry need to get behind the project and stick with it, which means proper resourcing.”

The president also claimed Wales was being “creative and forward-thinking about surveillance issues” and praised the introduction of gamma testing for bovine TB at Carmarthen, saying it “takes to sixth gear the early identification and control of a disease that has blighted livestock in Wales, England and Northern Ireland.”

Despite this, Mr Blackwell expressed disappointment that important and innovative programmes such as Cymorth TB – which provides additional veterinary support for farmers hit by a disease breakdown – are currently in abeyance, and urged the Welsh Government to reinstate and expand the programme as soon as possible.

He said: “Cymorth TB worked because it put the strong relationship between local veterinary surgeons and their clients first and foremost. After the farmer themselves, no one will know a herd as well as the local veterinary surgeon and this is critical in dynamic herd health planning and guarding against disease.

“This expert and local veterinary knowledge is why BVA has argued for local vets to remain at the heart of the delivery of official veterinarian services such as TB testing. We are heartened that following the tender for these services in Wales, a network of local veterinary surgeons is being maintained in this crucial work.”

Other topics raised by the president in his speech included:

  • horse welfare and fly-grazing
  • the Animal Welfare (Breeding of Dogs) Regulations
  • the introduction of compulsory microchipping of dogs in Wales in Spring 2016
  • support for the recently announced Rural Development Plan and Strategic Framework for Welsh Agriculture
  • the importance for animal welfare in Wales of the Animal Health and Welfare Group
  • safeguarding human and animal health, particularly in relation to the responsible use of antibiotics
  • BVA’s new Animal Welfare Strategy, which is currently being drafted

Concluding his speech, Mr Blackwell called Wales “a beacon for animal welfare in many ways”, before paying tribute to those that helped the country achieve that.

He said: “Rob Davies, BVA Welsh Branch president for the last year, has been a tireless and principled campaigner in his promotion of animal welfare on a number of fronts and we thank him for this. I am delighted to welcome Neil Paton as the our new Welsh Branch president and know that Rob is passing the baton to very safe hands indeed.”

He also praised CVO Christianne Glossop, who he called “the most critical of friends and the most formidable of allies” and claimed was “instrumental in securing many of the successes for animal health and welfare and for the veterinary profession in Wales.”

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