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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 The legislation, which regulates the profession in the UK, is widely considered to be outdated.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working with Mr Barclay and the team at Defra to ensure vets have the tools they need, starting with an overhaul of the outdated Veterinary Surgeons Act, which is currently unfit for purpose.”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.”

Image © Shutterstock

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.