What's the issue?
Official Veterinarian (OV) is the term used to describe private practice veterinary surgeons who perform work on behalf of an EU member state. The work performed by OVs is normally of a statutory nature (ie is required by law) and is often undertaken at public expense.
OVs must hold the appropriate Official Controls Qualifications (Veterinary) (OCQ[V]s) and these must be revalidated at regular intervals. In 2015, the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA appointed Improve International to manage the registration and training of OVs in England, Scotland and Wales.
Through a BVA member survey in 2018 we identified a number of issues with the OV revalidation system. Our members raised concerns about the revalidation requirements and the structure of the modules, citing the onerous and repetitive nature of the process as a primary reason for choosing not to revalidate.
If private practice vets move away from carrying out OV work, it could have a detrimental impact on the UK’s ability to respond to disease outbreaks and service export certification needs.
What's our view?
It is essential to maintain high standards, but the current system for OV revalidation is disproportionate and not currently fit for purpose.
The system needs to be reformed, including: improvements to the structure of the modules to reduce duplication; ensuring content is relevant; and making sure that the training more accurately reflects the real-life experience of OV work.
In 2018, we worked with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) on a series of proposals for reform. In January 2019, we welcomed the announcement of APHA's new plans in which:
- the revalidation interval will be standardised to 4 years for all courses, and the revalidation window extended to 6 months;
- the option of more flexible invigilator choice will be explored;
- Multiple Choice Questions and the relevance of course content will be reviewed;
- a separate farm animal course will be introduced; and
- APHA will work with us and the relevant divisions to develop other species-specific courses where required.