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November 20 - 26 2004 ~ "The Page Street operation had been bounded by the EU regulations"


(Please contact the website if you would like a fuller account.)


Some Extracts from the

FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE LESSONS LEARNED INQUIRY

Note of meeting

Date: 10 April 2002 Location: 9 Whitehall Present: Jim Scudamore, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO)

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Dr Anderson asked if it would ever be possible to determine for sure what the actual source of this infection had been. The CVO replied that it could not be determined whether it had been a direct illegal import to the UK or a legal import from within the EU that had originally entered the EU illegally elsewhere. Genetic evidence had identified the strain as Pan Asian O which had been present in many countries in the Middle East and the Far East. The view of Pirbright was that the UK strain shared a common origin with the one found in South Africa, thought to have come from ships'  waste. It was unlikely to have entered the UK direct from South Africa.

The operational plan had been developed and updated over the years but there had never been a full consultation. The policy dimension had received less attention. The "contingency plan" had not been a plan, but a document sent to the EU to confirm that plans were in place. There had been a wide consultation on the contingency plan on TSE in sheep and similar consultation was in place for the interim FMD contingency plan.              Dr Anderson suggested that a contingency plan should be more than a document, and should include an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders. He quoted a submission to the Inquiry that the contingency plan had been the "best kept secret". The CVO agreed that that may have been true. The other agencies involved in preparing the contingency plan were those listed in the Government submission. In future he suggested that tourism and other industries should also be included in the consultation.

 


 

 

If serological capacity had been available, and its use could have been rapid, it might have been possible to test those sheep that cattle would have been most likely to come into contact with when turned out. As it was, the 3km sheep cull had been used to protect the cattle.

(For a discussion of the rapid test offered to Prof David King - and refused see smartsep25.html There is still no clear intention in the Contingency plan to use rapid on-site diagnosis)

 

Dr Anderson reported the widely voiced criticism from the Inquiry's meetings around the country, of Page Street - that it had not listened and that it had not been responsive to local judgement, especially regarding the contiguous cull. The CVO said that, whilst the contiguous cull had been national policy, he disagreed that Page Street had not allowed local veterinary judgement. The instructions to vets issued on 6 April and 26 April had mentioned the use of local judgement. There had also been a number of specific local issues around the legal powers to cull contiguous premises related to justifying that exposure to infection had occurred. 

 Continuing, the CVO commented that complaints that Page Street had not listened may equally have been because Page Street had not done what the regions wanted. The Page Street operation had been bounded by the EU regulations, including, for example, having to report to the SVC daily during the outbreak. This had been an essential part of the disease control and monitoring process and one that the CVO would expect to be carried out just as rigorously by any other member state if it had a disease outbreak.  Implementation of the national policy had been devolved to the regions, except for confirmation of infected cases. Complaints that there had been delays had been resolved by instructions that, if a vet had not been able to get through to Page Street within two hours, he or she could confirm on clinical grounds in the field. Confirmation from the centre had been necessary for:    quality control on diagnosis - monitoring decisions made by temporary vets and using Page Street knowledge of was happening in outbreak in totality;   gathering knowledge of what had been happening immediately - to inform the government as a whole and also the EU;   a global overview -which had enabled policy changes ( the introduction of the "Slaughter on Suspicion" policy) to be empirically founded.  

 Once a vet had inspected a farm, he or she would have phoned Page Street with three options: confirm disease (slaughter), no disease (no slaughter) or uncertainly as to whether disease existed (Slaughter on Suspicion). The CVO said that he would use the same policy again in similar circumstances.