No room for “kneejerk reactions” on antibiotics says BVA president

Britain’s vets need to resist “kneejerk reactions” concerning calls to restrict their freedom to dispense antibiotics says the British Veterinary Association (BVA) president, John Blackwell.

Addressing the BVA’s annual Welsh dinner, he acknowledged that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) ranked among the profession’s primary concerns in every survey carried out by the association.

“Being concerned, of course, is not enough,” he told the gathering in Cardiff. “As vets, we need to be actively involved in educating clients about the risks of inappropriate use of antibiotics and put AMR on everyone’s agenda as a public health issue.”

In doing this, however, he urged his audience to approach AMR in a “balanced” manner.

“We need to resist kneejerk reactions, such as the calls from some quarters to restrict and reduce the ability of the veterinary surgeon to dispense antibiotics,” he said. “This would have the potential for huge welfare concerns for animals under our care with a very tenuous evidence base.

“However, the profession and the wider industry has to take responsibility for antibiotic usage and support the work of groups such as the Cattle Health and Welfare Group who are considering how to improve data collection recording ‘on farm’ of sector specific usage of antibiotics.”

Mr Blackwell (pictured above) also made time to welcome the new Veterinary Science Centre and other innovations in disease surveillance in Wales, although he warned that local vets needed to “remain at the heart of official veterinarian services” in the country.

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