The code of conduct and clinical guidelines for antimicrobial prescribing documents have been launched as part of the award-winning Arwain DGC (Defnydd Gwrthficrobaidd Cyfrifol/Responsible Antimicrobial Use) programme to help vets, farmers and horse owners address the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by reducing the need to use antibiotics.
The profession-led code of conduct for responsible antimicrobial use and clinical guidelines have been co-authored with the Veterinary Prescribing Champion (VPC) network.
The VPC network is a body created and co-ordinated by Dr Gwen Rees at Aberystwyth University to raise awareness of responsible antimicrobial use and increase prescribing skills in Welsh veterinary practices.
Since its inception, the highly trained VPC network has expanded across 44 livestock-facing practices across Wales, fostering over 50 bespoke antimicrobial stewardship action plans tailored to the needs of their practices and client base.
This work led to the formation of two specialist working groups to develop key initiatives to support the veterinary profession to prescribe responsibly – and the creation of a voluntary code of conduct for veterinary prescribing and a set of clinical guidelines.
Both documents are being disseminated to veterinary practices in Wales and will be regularly reviewed and updated.
The code of conduct outlines actions that can support vets to make the right decisions when prescribing antimicrobials, such as defining when an animal is considered under care.
The document also defines the “responsible use of antibiotics” and emphasises that responsible use doesn’t always mean not using antibiotics. Instead, it means using the right antibiotics at the right dose, as little as possible, but as often as necessary.
The clinical guidelines aim to support and harmonise veterinary care in Wales and focus on six key diseases of cattle and sheep.
For sheep, the guidelines concentrate on watery mouth, lameness, and joint ill. The guidelines for cattle focus on neonatal enteritis, mastitis, and bovine respiratory disease.
To create the guidelines, evidence was gathered from research on disease susceptibility, prevention, and the appearance of antibiotic resistance.
This was combined with the knowledge and clinical expertise of the vets in the VPC working group to produce an in-depth reference book for each species and an easy-to-use guide for practical use on farm.
The efforts of the VPCs were celebrated at an event held at the Royal Welsh Show, which acknowledged vets’ enthusiasm and commitment and influence on colleagues and farm clients.
Several vets were commended for their work: Laura Turner, William Allman, Fflur Roberts, Tamara van Doorn-Wood, Katie Harrower, Harry Williams, Jane Anscombe, George Roberts, Nicola Bowden, Frances Jones, Mo Kemp, Simon Allen, John Blackwell, Elliott Clifton, Elizabeth Jones, Stefan Totir, and Iwan Parry.
Dr Adam Powell, who led the VPC event, said: “It was a wonderful opportunity to publicly recognise the hard work of our farm vet community in Wales, who have demonstrably supported antimicrobial stewardship in practice and with clients.
“In particular, it is a fitting tribute to the VPCs who have developed the code and guideline documents and those individuals who have gone above and beyond in their stewardship roles.
“The wider Arwain DGC team are excited to start the project’s next phase over the next few months.”
Both the code of conduct and clinical guidelines for antimicrobial prescribing have been sent to all participants in the VPC network, and are also available to download via the Arwain DGC website.