HC Deb 07 October 2003 vol 411 c138W
Mr. Stephen O'Brien:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the effects that proposals to amend the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 to enable non-veterinary surgeons to diagnose bovine tuberculosis may have on (a) the welfare of cattle, (b) the welfare of badgers, (c) the welfare of non-wild animals, (d) the welfare of other wild animals, (e) the workload of existing veterinary practices, (f) the cashflow of existing veterinary practices, (g) the standards of diagnosis by (i) veterinary surgeons and (ii) non-veterinary surgeons and (h) the rate of the spread of the disease in (A) the national cattle herd, (B) geographic areas currently unaffected and (C) non-cattle animals. [131588]

Mr. Bradshaw:

We do not believe that the introduction of lay testers will have a detrimental effect on any of the elements listed.

The role of the lay TB tester, set out in our consultation paper issued on 4 July 2003, does not include diagnosis. This will be the responsibility of the supervising Local Veterinary Inspector (LVI) or Veterinary Officer of the State Veterinary Service. It is proposed that 72 hours after the tuberculin injection, the lay tester would record skin measurements, together with a description of the type of reaction observed. This information will be passed to a veterinary surgeon for interpretation of the results.

There is no intention of depriving LVI practices of their routine testing and no practice will be required to use lay testers. Those practices that chose to continue to use veterinary surgeons to perform TB tests would continue to receive fees at existing rates. A lower fee would be paid if a lay tester was used.