The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has today confirmed the award of contracts for the supply of a flexible package of veterinary services across five regions covering England to improve our ability to detect animal disease.
From 1 May 2015 all new TB testing and other Official Veterinarian (OV) work will be undertaken by five regional suppliers, who will be responsible for allocating local vets and ensuring testing is carried out to a high standard. This will help to drive up standards and ensure the ongoing quality of testing for animal disease.
Commenting on the award of contracts APHA’s Veterinary Director, Simon Hall, said:
“This new partnership with the veterinary industry will modernise the way we deliver key services such as bovine TB testing and improve our ability to detect disease 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 successful suppliers in England (to be known as ‘Delivery Partners’) are:
REGION DELIVERY PARTNER
South West 1 XL Farmcare Devon and Cornwall Ltd
South West 2 XL Farmcare Wessex Ltd
South East XL Farmcare South East Ltd
Midlands XL Farmcare Midlands Ltd
North XL Farmcare North Ltd
Each of the successful bidders is a distinct business entity consisting of a consortium of practices within the particular region, and will allocate testing work through a network of eligible veterinary businesses. The contracts have been awarded for a three year period, with the option to extend up to a further two years.
Farmers and livestock keepers will continue to be responsible for ensuring that TB testing is completed on time but in future will need to contact their regional Delivery Partner to make the arrangements. Delivery Partners will then be responsible for allocating the actual testing activity through their network of practices, and for assuring the quality of the work performed.
In recognition of the important relationship between farmers or livestock keepers and their vets in preventing and controlling disease and for ensuring the health and welfare of animals, the new contracts require Delivery Partners to offer testing work to eligible veterinary businesses operating within their geographical regions.
Work that has already been assigned to Official Veterinarian (OV) practices under existing arrangements will be completed by those practices but from 1 May all new work will be undertaken by delivery partners.
When making arrangements for tests, farmers and livestock keepers can express a preference to use a specific veterinary practice from within the Delivery Partners network to undertake their testing, and this preference will be honoured where possible. Farmers and livestock keepers who would prefer to use a practice that is not part of the Delivery Partners network retain an option to pay for the testing privately.
APHA will work to ensure that the livestock industry and veterinary profession are given information and support in preparation for the introduction of the new processes. We will be working with each of the Delivery Partners to establish joint plans for transition and communication of what the changes mean in detail, and further information will be published before the new arrangements commence.
Contract awards for two regions covering Wales were announced on 27 January. The changes do not apply in Scotland.