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I would like to share my experience using the Defra FMD Helpline in relation to Operation Hornbeam. 
 
I wanted to see what the state of play was, as a concerned citizen, engaging in the spirit of the simulation exercise.
 
 
Thursday, 1st July 2004: 11.46 roughly
 
I phoned the, "Foot and Mouth Disease & Movement Licence Helpline: 0845 0504141 (local rate)".
 
A very pleasant young lady answered and asked,
 
"What is you holding number?"
 
"I don't have one"
 
"How can I help then?"
 
"I want to know if I can get the report of Operation Hornbeam, what's happening with that exercise?".
 
"Ahh....... I don't know anything about that......... this is the Movement Licence Helpline........ we did get an email saying something about that [the simulation] happening, but I don't know what's happening or anything like that".
 
"OK....... where can I get a report on the exercise?"
 
"I can give you the number for the Defra Publications department......."
 
"OK that will do" (I was not going to engage in the futility of having an FMD Helpline that did not help)
 
"0845 955 6000"
 
"Thank you for that....... bye"
 
"Goodbye"
 
 
 
I'm sure the call was recorded for future training and help in customer satisfaction - so if I have paraphrased too widely, then I'm sure the true transcript will be available for scrutiny!
 
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If there is to be a real-time simulation of an FMD event which slaughtered, "more than 17,300 animals", then the FMD Helpline should be able to update the public in what the blazes is happening,
e.g. the FMD simulation is over because the initial 'stamping out' and subsequent vaccination plan worked well. Unfortunately 18,000 animals were slaughtered as they had proven FMD and were suffering.
Movements are still restricted in the exercise areas, but the country is open for business as usual, and you can eat the vaccinated meat and drink the milk as if nothing has happened........is that OK caller?
 
 
Why is the FMD Helpline, not an FMD Helpline?
 
 
Captain Bryn Wayt
01435 864937