The Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) and the Welsh Government has announced contracts have been signed to deliver bovine TB testing and other Official Veterinarian (OV) services in Wales.

Local vets will remain vital to OV delivery in Wales.

Menter a Busnes (North Wales) and iechyd Da (Gwledig) Ltd (South Wales) are the two businesses chosen as regional delivery partners.

From April 1, 2015 all new TB testing and other OV work in Wales will be undertaken by these suppliers, who will be responsible for allocating vets and ensuring testing is carried out.

APHA’s veterinary director Simon Hall said: “This is a significant milestone in modernising APHA’s partnership with the veterinary profession in Wales, and will improve our ability to detect disease through on farm testing and protect animal health.

“The new arrangements provide higher levels of assurance about quality of testing and value for money. Testing will continue to be performed by fully qualified vets and APHA will carry on working in close partnership with the veterinary profession.

“Local veterinary practices have always made an invaluable contribution to national disease control programmes and this new arrangement underlines the critical role they will continue to play in protecting animal health and welfare.”

The contracts have been awarded for a three-year period, with the option to extend up to a further two years.

APHA is not yet in a position to award contracts for the five regions in England. An unsuccessful tenderer has issued legal proceedings in respect of the English lots and this matter is being addressed. This matter remains commercially confidential. Further information on the award of contracts in England will be provided shortly.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the announcement: “We have consistently opposed the decision to move to a system of tendering for OV services and we have pushed for any new system to ensure the vital relationship between farmers and their local vets is not adversely affected,” said president John Blackwell. “We are therefore pleased local practitioners have worked together to bid and ultimately win the two lots in Wales.

“We note Welsh Government has worked closely with APHA to take forward a system that supports this practitioner-led approach. However, we will continue to monitor how the service is being delivered on the ground.”

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