Cautious welcome for DEFRA's emergency veterinary reserve proposal

31 July 2003

The RCVS has given a cautious welcome to the announcement by DEFRA this week of a review of the Local Veterinary Inspector (LVI) system and a proposal to establish a new emergency veterinary reserve.

DEFRA has suggested that this reserve should comprise about 100 volunteer LVIs to provide a "surge capacity" in veterinary administration to ensure that there are people available who are "skilled in specific veterinary emergency management issues such as matching vets to tasks".

Such a reserve would be available at short notice in the event of any future major animal disease emergency like the 2001 foot and mouth disease outbreak, however it would not be the large number of reserve field vets that the RCVS called for in its responses to the FMD Inquiries.

Former President of the RCVS, Roger Eddy, who sat on the Royal Society's Committee of Inquiry into the FMD outbreak said, "This consultation presents a welcome opportunity to comment on the LVI system, which has been long overdue for review."

However, Mr Eddy felt that the review would benefit from addressing a number of related issues. "We would hope that DEFRA might also seek to prevent a similar veterinary manpower shortage to that in 2001 by having large numbers of LVIs available at short notice to act as field vets.

"They [DEFRA] could also consider the role of LVIs in the new Animal Health and Welfare Strategy; the role of LVIs in disease surveillance; and the Royal Society's recommendation that a network of farm veterinary practices be established to work in partnership with the State Veterinary Service", he said.

The RCVS will be responding to the consultation in due course.

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