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A letter from the CVO

The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer highlights further opportunities for free training for vets and their staff

Dear colleagues, I appreciate that working through COVID-19 requirements continues to keep you very busy and has caused disruption for many of you. You all have a vital role to play in supporting businesses, UK citizens and the farming industry during the outbreak and as we get ready for the end of the transition period.

Whether it’s small animal vets dealing with pet pass­ports, equine vets dealing with equine movements or farm vets helping to ensure the export of animals and animal products can continue at the end of the transition period, I would like to thank you all for the time and effort you have taken to get prepared for all of these changes.

I wanted to let you know that Defra has launched a new £300,000 fund for Official Veterinarian (OV) training for the export certification of animal products, equines and ungu­lates and for Certification Support Officer (CSO) training.

From 1 January 2021, an export health certificate (EHC) will be needed for export of live animals or animal products to the EU, supporting around £5 billion worth of trade. Vets have a critical role in helping businesses export. Under the Northern Ireland protocol, movements of these prod­ucts from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will require the same level of certification. This also includes equines, which currently move without health certification between the UK, France and Ireland. The number of OVs qualified to sign EHCs for animal products has increased from around 600 in February 2019 to approximately 1,200 currently. However, in order to help meet the potential increase in demand after the transition period, the government would like to further increase certification capacity.

Therefore, this additional funding has been made availa­ble to enable vets to gain the Official Controls Qualification (Veterinary) in Ungulate Exports (OCQ(V) – UX), Equine Exports (OCQ(V) – EQ) and Product Exports (OCQ(V) – PX). Also, if not already held, the prerequisite courses: Essential Skills (OCQ(V) – ES) and Exports General (OCQ(V) – EX) can be funded. Revalidation of existing qualifications does not qualify for funding.

Further funding has also been made available for Certification Support Officer (CSO) training. Whilst CSOs cannot sign an export health certificate themselves, they can perform tasks to provide OVs with the assurances they require to certify animal products for export. For example, this could include carrying out record checks and checking the identification of products. Use of CSOs is expected to increase the efficiency and productivity of OVs providing export certification for animal products other than germplasm and germinal products.

I am proud to be part of a profession that rises to the challenges it meets, as you have so ably demonstrated, and I have every confidence that this will be no different from 1 January 2021.

For further information on how to apply for a funded place please see information in this briefing note. Please also let your colleagues know if you think it might be useful for them.

Once you complete your training, or if you already hold export OCQ(V)s, please make sure that your business is registered for EHC Online to ensure that exporting businesses can select you as their certifier when they submit EHC applications. As a certifier you will not be able to receive certificates from APHA if you are not registered for EHC Online.

If you need help registering for EHC Online or have any operational and technical queries relating to an EHC application, please check APHA’s Vet Gateway where supporting guidance is available. You may also want to list your vet practice on the page which helps businesses find a certifier.

Finally, please remember to search “veterinary Brexit” on to check out the Vet Sector page which lists all of the changes affecting our profession at the end of the transition period.

Christine Middlemiss

Christine Middlemiss, BVMS, MRCVS, is the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer. She was appointed in 2018 having been working as the CVO in New South Wales, Australia, since 2016. Before this, Christine led Defra’s Animal Traceability and Public Health policy team, and also previously surveillance including detection and response to new and emerging diseases. She was appointed Visiting Professor of Practice by Harper Adams University in 2019.

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