What you need to know about TB testing delivery service

The delivery of TB testing and other government vet services in England and Wales is set to transfer to seven regional ‘delivery partners’, starting on 1 April 2015 in Wales and 1 May 2015 in England. XL Farmcare explains what the changes mean.

Why have the changes been put in place?

In July 2013, the Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency – now the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) – announced plans to modernise its relationship with suppliers of vet services to ensure their delivery was demonstrably more effective and efficient.

In England, XL Farmcare were named as the contract delivery partners for the five (APHA) designated English regions. They are each owned and managed by separate consortiums of farm veterinary practices.

See also: New TB testing rules must not penalise local vets

In Wales, Menter a Busnes and Iechyd Da (Gwledig) are the two delivery partners.

How will the changes affect farmers?

The fundamental way that testing is carried out on farms will not be affected. However, a key aim is to improve the consistency of how tests are carried out on farm and also the overall quality of TB testing.

To achieve this, all vet practices undertaking TB testing for a regional delivery partner will be working to the same agreed processes and quality standards.

All farmers will be given the opportunity to express their preference as to which vet undertakes TB testing on their farm.

Equally, all existing vet practice providers of the service will have the opportunity to register as an approved supplier.

If the vet practice meets the conditions to be an approved supplier and the farmers name that practice as their preference, then the link between farmer and local vet will be fully maintained.

So what do farmers need to do to register their preferred supplier of TB testing?

If a farmer’s usual vet practice is part of one of the delivery partners’ network, and the farmer is happy for it to continue providing their TB testing, he doesn’t need to do anything. The vet practice will be automatically recorded by the regional delivery partner as the farmer’s preferred practice.

If a farmer’s veterinary practice is not part of the delivery network, the delivery partner will contact farmers when their TB tests are due. Working with farmers, the XL Farmcare regional companies will ensure a practice within the delivery network is allocated to undertake their TB testing.

See also: Defra clamps down on late TB testing

If a farmer’s chosen veterinary practice is not part of the delivery network and the farmer wants them to continue doing TB testing on their farm, they can, but the TB testing will be at their own expense and the rate will be determined by the veterinary practice.

Farmers in England can register their preference at www.xlfarmcare.co.uk or by calling 0800 612 5289.

Should farmers be concerned if their own vet can no longer do the test?

The new contracts require delivery partners to offer testing work to eligible vet businesses operating within their geographical regions.

The regional XL Farmcare companies are working hard to ensure as many vet practices as possible can continue to deliver TB testing services for their farm clients.

Where a vet practice chooses not to undertake TB testing, XL Farmcare will contact the farmer when TB tests are due to ensure another local vet practice, of the farmer’s choice, is assigned to undertake the work to ensure the farmer still has access to free TB testing.

What do farmers need to do if they require a test?

Farmers and livestock keepers will continue to be responsible for ensuring that TB testing is completed on time, but in future will need to contact their regional delivery partner to make the arrangements (see table).

Rival vet companies claimed XL Farmcare payment rates were considerably lower than theirs, which is why you were awarded the contract. They say cheap tests could threaten the quality of the TB testing service. Do you agree?

One of the requirements of any tender bid submitted was to ensure it demonstrated a reduction in the cost of TB testing. However, the tender process was not all about the lowest price.

The majority of the tender assessment was based on quality assurance to ensure TB testing is as effective as possible in the role that it has to play in controlling the disease.

The regional delivery partners will be responsible for allocating local vets and ensuring testing is carried out to a high standard. This will help to drive up standards and ensure the ongoing quality of testing for animal disease.

See also: Legal challenge for Defra TB testing tender


Delivery partners in each geographical region


Delivery partner

Wales North

Menter a Busnes

Wales South

Iechyd Da (Gwledig)

South West 1

XL Farmcare Devon & Cornwall

South West 2

XL Farmcare Wessex

South East

XL Farmcare South East


XL Farmcare Midlands


XL Farmcare North