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Vet groups urge new minister to reform Veterinary Surgeons Act
Steve Barclay has taken over at Defra from Thérèse Coffey.

BVA and BVNA are looking forward to working with new Defra secretary on pressing issues.

Veterinary groups have called on the new environment minister to work with them to tackle the critical issues facing the sector, including reforming the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Steve Barclay replaced Thérèse Coffey as secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle. The former health secretary will have a number of pressing matters to deal with in his new role, including the forthcoming ban on XL bully dogs.

Following the announcement of his appointment, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) highlighted the important role played by veterinary surgeons in dealing with problems such as dangerous dogs and imported diseases.

The association’s president urged the new minister to support the work of veterinary surgeons by reforming the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. The legislation, which regulates the profession in the UK, is widely considered to be outdated.

BVA president Anna Judson said: “The new environment secretary enters his job at a critical time with the ban on XL bully dogs rapidly approaching and new imported diseases emerging, all whilst long-standing issues like access to veterinary medicines in Northern Ireland post-Brexit still need to be fully resolved.

“Vets play a vital role in dealing with these issues, as well as supporting the UK economy and international trade, therefore BVA looks forward to working with Mr Barclay and the team at Defra to ensure vets have the tools they need, starting with an overhaul of the outdated Veterinary Surgeons Act, which is currently unfit for purpose.”

The British Veterinary Nursing Association has also said that it looks forward to working with Defra under the leadership of Mr Barclay and added its voice to the calls for reform of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

BVNA president Lyndsay Hughes said: “The appointment of the new Defra secretary is important to the veterinary nursing profession, as it has come at an already challenging time for the veterinary sector as a whole.

“The pressing animal welfare issues targeted by the dropped Kept Animals Bill remain unaddressed – which, among many others, include ear cropping and illegal puppy smuggling. There have been delays to implementing the previously announced legislation banning electric shock collars, while the ban on XL bully dogs is now imminent.

“Veterinary nurses play a pivotal role in upholding welfare standards for all animals, and we know the profession is frustrated and saddened by these issues.
“We’re also continuing to campaign for reform of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 – which we believe is no longer fit for purpose – to include the need for statutory protection of our title. We look forward to continuing to build upon our working relationship with Defra under Steve Barclay’s leadership, to ensure the veterinary nursing voice is heard in the calls for legislative change.”

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VMG president joins House of Lords

News Story 1
 Miles Russell, president of the Veterinary Management Group (VMG), has been elected to the House of Lords as a crossbench hereditary peer.

He will join Lord Trees as a representative of the veterinary sector in the second chamber of the UK parliament.

Lord Russell said: "Those of us working in the animal health and veterinary sectors are only too aware of the importance of the work we do and the challenges we face.

"I will use my platform in the House of Lords to increase understanding of our sectors and to promote positive change." 

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News Shorts
Sixth case of bluetongue confirmed

A sixth case of bluetongue virus serotype 3 has been confirmed in the UK.

The case was detected in an animal on a premises linked to one of the farms within the Temporary Control Zone (TCZ) currently in place near Canterbury, Kent.

In response, the Animal and Plant Health Agency has extended the TCZ. Investigations into the spread of the disease are ongoing.

The cases in Kent come at a time when a new strain of the virus has spread rapidly across farms in the Netherlands. Both the Government and the British Veterinary Association have urged livestock keepers to remain vigilant.

Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and suspected cases must be reported immediately on 03000 200 301 in England or 03003 038 268 in Wales. In Scotland, possible cases should be reported to the local field services office.