Nearly 1,300 BVA members responded to the association’s survey in which it asked veterinary professionals about the current training and revalidation system for Official Veterinarians (OVs) carrying out public health work in Great Britain.
The survey, which was carried out in July, asked members to list what Official Controls Qualification (OCQ) they hold or have held in the past, and give reasons for dropping a previously held qualification or choosing not to revalidate. Some 25.3% of vets who currently hold the Essential Skills OCQ under grandfather rights said they were not planning to renew this qualification, with 66% of these saying they found the requirements too troublesome.
Many respondents criticised the current training and revalidation process, which is currently administered by Improve International on behalf of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). Factors including time, the cumulative cost of renewing each module at regular intervals, a lack of relevance and duplication of learning across different modules were cited as reasons for choosing to drop qualifications.
The results also suggested frustrations with export certification OCQs, most of which needed revalidation this summer. Currently, equine exports are included in the ungulate export OCQ and this was cited as a concern for those vets who only work with farm animals.
Some 72.5% of respondents holding grandfather rights to the avian export OCQ and 47.1% holding the animal products OCQ said they were not planning to revalidate their qualifications.
The BVA said it was “more important than ever” to retain skilled professionals to “respond robustly to disease outbreaks and meet demand for export certification after Brexit.”
John Fishwick, BVA president, said: “The unprecedented response rate to this survey really hits home the strength of feeling on this issue. There is an urgent need to review and improve the revalidation process to safeguard against capacity and capability issues in this critical section of the workforce.
“It’s really positive that APHA recognises that there are issues with the current system and is keen to work with us to make it more proportionate and fit for purpose while continuing to maintain high standards.”
Andrew Soldan, APHA veterinary director, added: “The integrity of our official controls and export certification is vitally important. The Official Controls Qualifications are a key part of this as they provide standardised OV training as well as assurance of high standards. I’m grateful to BVA for their assistance as we look to make further improvements to the system in the future.”