Bovine TB testing equipment©Tim Scrivener

Vets are calling for extra time to consider whether they want to sign up to new TB testing contracts.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA) are asking the government to extend the deadline for vets to sign by a month to give practices enough time to scrutinise the contracts.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) awarded TB-testing contracts to five delivery partners for England in February and the delivery partners issued contracts to veterinary practices to subcontract the work earlier this month.

See also: Government agency to shake up TB testing delivery 

The deadline for signing contracts is 24 April, with a start date of 1 May.

But vets have raised a number of questions about the contracts and are particularly concerned about the short timeframe given to sign.

In a letter to Defra secretary Liz Truss, the BVA and BCVA have called for an extension to the end of May for practices to sign up to be subcontractors, with a start date of 1 June.

BVA president John Blackwell said: “The move to tendering for TB testing and other official veterinarian services has caused a significant amount of anxiety for some of our members.

“One of the biggest concerns we are hearing from members is that they have not been given enough time to consider the impact of the new contract on their practice and that they need more time to properly scrutinise the detail and obtain answers to their questions.

“The government has been planning tendering for several years, but its stipulated procurement timelines have given local veterinary practices just a few days to make these significant decisions.”

The BVA is currently in talks with the NFU about devising a joint statement which sets out the best way forward on bovine TB that can be handed to the next government following the general election on 7 May.

It is thought they will call for a new independent organisation responsible for animal health and welfare issues for grazed livestock to be established.