Veterinary leaders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (NI) have published their own animal health and welfare manifestos ahead of this week’s government elections in each country.
The manifestos, which have been produced by the relevant British Veterinary Association (BVA) divisions for each country, display considerable common ground while also targeting individual country concerns, particularly in relation to declaring what the “next government” should do.
The BVA Scotland wish list includes the following recommendations:
- Ensure Scotland has an effective disease surveillance structure that is physically robust, by preventing the closure of disease surveillance centres, and offers a coordinated support network for veterinary surgeons and farmers, particularly those working in remote areas, to maintain good access to diagnostic services and feasible carcase collection.
- Support vets and farmers to combat endemic livestock diseases by developing control measures for Johne’s disease following on from the findings of the Paraban projects; by working with professional associations to encourage farmers and local vets to keep testing statuses for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) up to date under phase 4 of the eradication programme; and to maintain vigilance for porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED), now a notifiable disease.
- Continue to support the One Health approach, as outlined in the UK’s five-year Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) strategy, to increase collaboration and integration of the veterinary and medical professions to promote the responsible use of antimicrobials.
- Lobby in Europe to protect the veterinary surgeon’s right to prescribe, and privilege to dispense, veterinary medicines as a means of improving antimicrobial stewardship to safeguard their future use in animals and humans, and to increase the availability of authorised veterinary medicinal products for aquaculture.
The BVA Wales and BVA NI lists, while including several similar points, also call for action on the following additional points:
- Protect the welfare of animals by requiring all animals to be stunned before slaughter to ensure they are insensible to pain. There is very little non-stun slaughter carried out in Wales (and NI) but, while it is permitted under the EU derogation, the government should reduce the welfare harm of non-stun slaughter by labelling meat as stunned or non-stunned to allow consumers to make an informed choice, and better matching legitimate supply to demand.
- Introduce mandatory CCTV use in all approved slaughterhouses as a useful tool in helping to meet general animal welfare requirements in slaughterhouses.
- Review and revise the Welsh (and NI) government codes of practice for the welfare of livestock and companion animals in partnership with the veterinary profession.
Elections to the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly of Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly take place on Thursday, May 5.