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Standards & advice update: January 2021

This month’s Standards & Advice update covers changes to the rules around the prescribing cascade for Great Britain and Northern Ireland following the end of the UK-EU transition period and the signing of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement as well as the arrangements within the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed between the UK and the EU in 2019.

Furthermore, there is also information for our Riding Establishment Inspectors on updates to the form they use when making recommendations to a local authority on whether to grant a licence to an establishment and a reminder on certification for Official Measurers for the Joint Measurement Board.

For information about our latest guidance regarding Covid-related restrictions across the four nations of the UK please see our dedicated coronavirus page.

Changes to the cascade

At the beginning of January 2021 changes to the prescribing cascade were brought in by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). Veterinary surgeons should note that there are now two different sets of cascade guidance dependent on whether they are practising in Great Britain (England/Scotland/ Wales) or in Northern Ireland.

For vets practising in Great Britain, veterinary medicines authorised in Northern Ireland for the species or condition should be considered before other alternatives. GB vets should note that although there are currently no veterinary medicines authorised only in Northern Ireland, a pharmaceutical company may choose to apply for this authorisation in the future. It should be further noted that veterinary medicines authorised in other countries are now on the same level of the cascade as UK authorised human medicines.

Products that are not authorised in GB or UK-wide will require a Special Import Certificate in order to legally obtain that product for use under the cascade. 

For vets practising in Northern Ireland, the cascade remains largely the same. However, Great Britain should be considered a third country, meaning that veterinary medicines authorised only in GB are the last option under the cascade. Instead, preference should be given to veterinary medicines authorised in the EU.

Products that are not authorised in Northern Ireland or UK-wide will require a Special Import Certificate in order to legally obtain that product for use under the cascade. 

The VMD’s Product Information Database will show the territory for which a veterinary medicine is authorised as ‘Great Britain’, ‘Northern Ireland’ or ‘United Kingdom’. It is expected that the PID updates will be available in due course.

The full updates can be found in Chapter 4 (‘Veterinary Medicines’) of the supporting guidance to the Code of Professional Conduct.

Update to Riding Establishment Inspector’s Forms

Following the enactment of the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 and the associated DEFRA guidance, the Riding Establishments Subcommittee has considered the practical effects of the Regulations and carried out a full review of both the template Riding Establishment Veterinary Inspector’s Form (England) and the guidelines for England.

The updated template inspector’s form for England was published on the Riding Establishments webpage in September. The Subcommittee invited and considered feedback from inspectors regarding the form, the results of which have been addressed and implemented in the latest version. The template Riding Establishment Veterinary Inspector’s Form is intended to be used primarily as a guidance tool to aid the professional judgement and expertise of inspectors in deciding whether a riding establishment should be recommended for licensing. The form can be used for both full and interim riding establishment inspections while we await further clarification from DEFRA as to the remit of the interim inspections.

The updated guidelines are due to be finalised and published in early 2021. Our guidelines will further assist inspectors in implementing the regulations and associated DEFRA guidance when carrying out inspections.

Certification by veterinary surgeons appointed as Official Measurers of the Joint Measurement Board

The Joint Measurement Board (‘JMB’) is tasked with running the UK's national scheme for the measurement of the height of horses and ponies for the purpose of description and classification of such horses and ponies for competition.

The Stewards of the JMB appoint veterinary surgeons annually, as Official Measurers, to certify measurements in accordance with JMB’s Measurement Rules, and the 10 Principles of Certification, as set out in Chapter 21 of the supporting guidance to the Code of Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons.

The method by which veterinary surgeons submit the information to JMB, is by way of a password protected online form titled, the JMB Measurement Application Form 2020.  Although the word ‘certificate’ does not appear in this form, and there is no signature on the form, as such, it does not mean that the level of responsibility when supplying the information on this form is any less than for any other certificate.  

The guidance to the Code states that all certifying veterinary surgeons have a duty to maintain the integrity of veterinary certification, in that misleading, incomplete, inaccurate, or untrue certification reflects adversely on the individual signing, as well as having an adverse impact on the general reputation of the veterinary profession.

Those signing any certificate must therefore be in a position to support the statements that they certify to be true.  With this in mind, veterinary surgeons acting in their capacity as Official Measurers are advised to ensure that any equipment used in the measurement process, ie pads and measuring sticks, are used as directed and are fit for purpose at the time of measuring.

January 2021