Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons
ADVICE FROM THE RCVS REGARDING THE USE OF FORM A ON "CLEAN CULL" OR "PRE-EMPTIVE CULL" FARMS
It appears that confusion has arisen amongst some veterinary surgeons currently working for MAFF as TVIs regarding the use of Form A and whether it should be signed in circumstances where pre-emptive culling is to take place. When appending a signature to any document a veterinary surgeon is signing with authority and the principles of certification will apply. This will apply to all forms, licences or certificates that veterinary surgeons are asked to sign within the current Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak, whether these are movement licences or the forms used in the control of the disease such as Forms A, C or D.
Article 5(1) of the Foot and Mouth Disease Order 1983 states "Where notification under Article 4(1) (a) above is given to a constable or to an inspector or to the DVO, or where through any other cause a constable or an inspector or the DVO has reasonable grounds for supposing that disease exists or has within 56 days existed on any premises, he shall serve a notice in Form A on the occupier of the said premises declaring them to be an infected place". Thus an infected place is defined in the Order.
Before signing Form A, which declares the premises to be an Infected Place, the veterinary surgeon needs to have reasonable grounds for supposing that disease exists or has existed within the last 56 days. In most situations such as premises where disease has been confirmed or is suspected and dangerous contact or contiguous farms there will be reasonable grounds for supposing disease exists or has existed within the last 56 days.
On farms where the "pre-emptive cull" policy is to be actioned the TVI is usually instructed to inspect all susceptible animals to assure freedom from signs of FMD and then to sign Form A after which slaughter can commence. In many cases the farm will have received patrol visits from TVIs in the intervening weeks at which no evidence of FMD has been detected.
The full knowledge of the FMD situation in any area is with the DVM and TVIs may not be in possession of all the facts and therefore would not necessarily know to what extent there are grounds for supposing disease exists or has existed within the last 56 days. Therefore veterinary surgeons should not sign Form A unless they can be satisfied that the definition of an infected place as defined in the Order applies, i.e. there are reasonable grounds for supposing that disease exists or has existed in the last 56 days.
This guidance is based on the general principles set out in the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct and any veterinary surgeons who is (sic) uncertain about how these general principles should be applied in particular circumstances is advised to seek advice from the Royal College.
Signed R G Eddy PRESIDENT 24 May 2001