Defra have now published the summary of responses to their consultation on proposals to enable veterinary practices to use para-veterinary professional Approved Tuberculin Testers (ATTs) to perform tuberculin skin testing of cattle in England. The full summary of responses can be found here .
The consultation ran from 24 July 2017 to 7 September 2018 and Defra received a total of 63 responses to the consultation, of these 39 responses were received from individuals and 24 were from organisations.
Overall the responses were positive to the idea of extending the use of ATTs in England to give private veterinary businesses the option of deploying them to carry out some TB skin tests. Accordingly, APHA will proceed with plans to roll out a pilot project in late 2018 to trial the use of ATTs in private businesses. The pilot will act on advice and address concerns raised by those for and against the proposal. Progress will be closely monitored and feedback from the pilot will be used to inform final decisions on veterinary supervision, test types, auditing and management of ATTs ahead of any wider roll-out.
Most respondent’s agreed with the proposal, some with attached caveats, the general theme was the importance of the ATT having sufficient expertise and experience, that extended use could mean better utilisation of veterinary surgeons, and the use of ATT’s could help ensure more timely testing is provided. A number of the minority who disagreed with the proposal felt that the government’s primary objective in proposing the increased use of ATTs was to cut costs and a concern that there would be a reduction in the wider on-farm benefits of having vets perform all tests.
The NFU supports the implementation of a pilot project under the direction of APHA to assess the feasibility of extending the use of lay testers to carry out some bovine TB skin tests in private veterinary practices. We welcome the fact that progress of the trial will be closely monitored and feedback will be taken into account before any decision is made on wider roll-out. It is important that the understanding and expectations of farmers is carefully managed. If the pilot is unsuccessful there will need to be a clear strategy for handling questions of result reliability, especially where test reactors had been found and culled during the pilot.