Following an obligatory retender exercise, Statutory tuberculosis (TB) testing and other Government veterinary services in England and Wales are being delivered under new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) contracts for Defra and Welsh Government from 1 June 2021.

Regional Veterinary Delivery Partners (VDP) have been providing services on behalf of APHA for Defra and Welsh Government since 2015. A seamless transition is expected with each of the new contracts awarded to an existing VDP following an open tender last autumn. The new contracts will run initially until 2024.

There are six VDP regions, four in England (previously five) and two in Wales. From 1st June 2021 all new instructions for work is being allocated to the VDP responsible for delivery under the new contracts.

VDPs are required to work with all qualifying veterinary businesses operating within their geographical region.

This means wherever possible a keeper’s own veterinary practice will deliver services, recognising the importance local veterinarians play in preventing and controlling disease and ensuring the health and welfare of animals in England and Wales.

In addition to Official Veterinarians, the new contracts also allow for TB testing in England to be carried out by Approved Tuberculin Testers who are authorised by APHA.

In addition to TB testing, the new contracts broaden the range of veterinary and technical services provided for, including functions to compliment the work of APHA in the fields of exotic disease control and welfare of farmed animals. Importantly, the new contracts also seek to further strengthen the quality assurance through enhanced audit and performance management procedures.

The UK Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Christine Middlemiss said:

“These new contracts focus rightly on further strengthening the quality assurance of services delivered by our Veterinary Delivery Partners. The VDP contracts are an essential part of delivering our TB disease control policy in England.

Professor Christianne Glossop, Chief Veterinary Officer Wales said:

“I would like to congratulate both Menter a Busnes and Iechyd Da (Gwledig) Ltd on securing their second tenures as our Veterinary Delivery Partners in Wales. Private veterinary practices play a key role as we work together to eradicate TB, and annual testing is a cornerstone of our Programme.

“Partnership is at the forefront of our animal health and welfare policies in Wales and I am delighted we are able to continue working together to build on the successes already achieved.

The Tuberculosis Test Notice letters from APHA to keepers continue to indicate which VDP supplier is responsible for delivering the test. It remains the keeper’s responsibility to arrange TB testing and keepers should continue to contact their usual veterinary practice to make the arrangements.

Services delivered in Wales must be offered in the Welsh Language when requested.

Arrangements in Scotland are unaffected and are not covered by the VDP.

The regional Veterinary Delivery Partners from 1 June 2021 are:

  • North Wales: Menter a Busnes
  • South Wales: Iechyd Da (Gwledig) Ltd
  • Devon & Cornwall: Farmcare Devon & Cornwall Ltd
  • Western England: Farmcare West Ltd
  • South & Eastern England: Farmcare Central Ltd
  • Northern England: Farmcare North Ltd

Through enhanced partnership working, and building on the successes of the previous contracts, APHA aims to work with the new VDP suppliers to pursue a range of continuous improvement initiatives. Schemes will target on farm, service delivery, administrative and quality assurance improvements as well as identifying other opportunities that enhance partnership working between the Authority and the VDP suppliers.

David Pugh, Principle Official Vet for Menter a Busnes:

“We are extremely proud to continue working with all vets in north Wales, to provide high quality veterinary service to farmers in the region. We also look forwards to continue our partnership approach in working with Welsh Government, APHA and Iechyd Da, to offer the best possible animal health services to keepers.

David Thomas, Principle Official Vet for Iechyd Da (Gwledig) Ltd:

“Iechyd da (a company comprising of all the large animal veterinary practices in South Wales) is delighted to continue its successful partnership with Welsh Government for the delivery of important veterinary services in the area. Collaboration between the private veterinary profession and government is clearly the best way forward in these challenging times for farm animal diseases and the livestock industry in Wales.

James Allcock, Veterinary Director of UK Farmcare, party to all the successful VDP bids in England, stated:

“We look forward to continuing to provide opportunity for all livestock practices to deliver TB testing and other Government veterinary services, if they so wish. We hope to be able to enhance our relationship with APHA such that all industry stakeholders feel greater confidence in all the efforts being made to reduce the impact of TB on farms. It is especially pleasing that the Authority clearly recognise the importance of a vibrant community of rural livestock veterinary practices, especially in notifiable disease emergency situations.

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