THE SQP, or Suitably Qualified Person, is an animal health adviser entitled to prescribe and/or supply POM-VPS medicines under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations. These regulations also mean that without sufficient CPD, SQPs cannot retain their professional status. In line with the Veterinary Medicine Regulations and the SQP Code of Practice, all CPD for SQPs must be accredited by AMTRA (Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority) – the body which maintains the register of SQPs and oversees their training. CPD is delivered across the UK by most pharmaceutical companies, by trade associations and publications, higher education authorities and research bodies, by VMD and by AMTRA itself. In parallel, employers are increasingly involved in the provision, availability and access to appropriate CPD for their employee SQPs. Let’s be clear at this point that CPD for SQPs is not simply a boxticking exercise. In keeping up to date with the latest developments in animal health, SQPs are giving appropriate advice on the safe use of POM-VPS and NFA-VPS medicines at the point of supply. Through CPD, SQPs are made aware of the SPC/Product Data Sheet information on new POM-VPS and NFA-VPS, as well as AVM-GSL medicines. In addition, a lot of CPD includes updates on legal and professional information and any changes to the Veterinary Medicine Regulations or the latest version of the SQP Code of Practice such as additional requirements for pharmacovigilance, SARSS, disposal and so on. Worthy of note in this discussion is the prescription and supply of endoand ecto-parasiticides. SQPs are at the front line in getting out sound and reliable advice to help in the prevention of parasite build-up on pasture. Along with vets and pharmacists they contribute equally to Responsible Use of Anthelmintics. SCOPS principles and, more recently, COWS principles form the basis of CPD sessions in this area. Through their training, SQPs learn how to select the safest, most appropriate veterinary medicine for the animal(s), together with the latest research in limiting development of parasite resistance. The function of the SQP is not often understood fully either by those within the profession or the general public – SQPs are not attempting to be ‘mini vets’ or ‘mini pharmacists’ – but they do have an important role in ensuring that the best advice on safety and usage is given to clients at the point of sale. Large numbers of animal keepers go to their local animal health outlet for routine worming and de-fleaing treatments. SQPs provide reassurance that products and treatments are being administered properly for the benefit of the animals, and, to the client, that the person supplying them with medicine is competent to do so. From their own professional point of view, SQPs have been quick to understand the ‘added value’ they provide by way of advice to the animal owner. AMTRA’s emphasis on stringent CPD has helped cement the professional reputation of the SQP, which, as the EU discusses the future of the distribution of animal medicines, we hope will go some way to helping retain the UK’s current distribution system. CPD forms the backbone of the SQP’s professional status and ensures that SQPs are indeed, as their name states, suitably qualified to prescribe or supply VPS medication safely and appropriately.
- Notes: SQPs can access CPD through seminars, distance learning or personal study, though any form of delivery needs to be of a minimum duration and to contain a number of essential criteria. FAQs and further information on CPD are available on the AMTRA website (www.amtra.org.uk).