The Welsh Affairs Committee has expressed “ongoing concerns” about the impact of the proposed closure of veterinary laboratory facilities in Wales, following written and oral evidence from the BVA and other organisations.

The Welsh Affairs Committee has expressed “ongoing concerns” about the impact of the proposed closure of veterinary laboratory facilities in Wales, following written and oral evidence from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and other organisations.

Burkholderia pseudomallei grown on sheep's blood agar (SPA). Image courtesy CDC/ Dr Todd Parker, Audra Marsh.David T C Davies MP, chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, has written to DEFRA minister Jim Paice, stating that the potential impact of the proposals on the rural community of Wales should be taken into account, while seeking clarification on a number of areas of concern.

Mr Davies wrote: “Welsh farms account for approximately 11% of the total UK cattle, with 2 million cattle in south and mid Wales—the second densest area within the UK for dairy cattle. In addition, there are 5 million sheep in Wales.

“We are concerned that the centralising of laboratory services out of Wales could have a detrimental effect on the local, rural economy,” he said.

Other concerns included:

  • Delays in bacteriology and parasitology testing that could be carried out immediately in Wales;
  • The risk of sample deterioration during transport and during postal transfer; and
  • The loss of “important relationships” between farmers, local vets and AHVLA staff that are “vital for intelligence gathering and for the identification of new and emerging diseases”.

BVA president Carl Padgett.BVA president Carl Padgett said: “Since AHVLA’s proposals to rationalise the veterinary laboratory services were first announced the BVA has expressed concern about the impact in Wales.

“We do recognise the significant financial pressures on the Government and on AHVLA but it is vital that any changes to our laboratory network are based on improving or maintaining the service, not simply cost cutting.”

Mr Padgett said the association was pleased that the Welsh Affairs Committee had taken many of the concerns raised by BVA members on board: “In particular, we are keen to hear DEFRA’s comments on the potential for delays in diagnosis and deterioration of samples during transportation. And we are pleased to see the committee asking for an undertaking that post-mortem facilities in Wales will not be affected.

“Both the Welsh Affairs Committee and the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee have made a strong case to the Government for an enhanced veterinary surveillance network and we support them wholeheartedly.”

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