Dorset SQP “breaches professional standards”

Dorset SQP, Peter Barker of Barkers Animal Health in Wimborne, has been sent a Letter of Warning by the AMTRA Board after serious concerns were raised about the information contained in a brochure he produced for customers.

“A complaint was received by AMTRA regarding Peter Barker which was examined by the Professional Standards Committee,” explains Stephen Dawson, Secretary General of AMTRA. “The Committee concluded that the brochure produced by Mr Barker fell short of what would be expected from a responsible SQP,” Mr Dawson says.

The recommendations of the Professional Standards Committee were accepted unanimously by the AMTRA Board, and a Letter of Warning has been issued to Mr Barker. “A Letter of Warning is the highest sanction available to us short of removal from the SQP register, and would be considered relevant should there be any future finding of a breach of professional standards or the SQP Code of Practice,” Mr Dawson continued.

“The Committee found several instances in the brochure which could result in overuse of medicines, with no mention of the importance of consideration of the individual circumstances of the farm or animals, or of the potential resistance status of the parasites in question, or of the principles of responsible use of medicines,” Stephen Dawson explains. “The Committee was particularly concerned at text which could encourage off-SPC use of products, contrary to the Veterinary Medicines Regulations and the SQP Code of Practice,” he says.

“SPCs are approved by the VMD and are based on research and product knowledge and are there for a reason. Off-SPC prescription of animal medicines is restricted to prescriptions from a veterinary surgeon under the circumstances permitted by the prescribing “cascade”, and medicines cannot be prescribed off-SPC by an SQP,” he added.

“Animal medicines must always be used responsibly and that includes proper consideration of the individual circumstances. AMTRA encourages all SQPs and SQP businesses to explore ways to make animal owners to understand the need always to engage in a conversation with their SQP advisor, and to avoid the expectation that any individual medicine will be the right solution for all animals in all circumstances,” Mr Dawson added.

Under AMTRA procedures, Mr Barker had the right of written or verbal appeal following the Letter of Warning. No appeal was received and the case has now been closed.

“Such complaints against SQPs are rare,” Stephen Dawson explains. “In fact the Committee has only considered four complaints in the last four years. However, the professional status of SQPs is founded on principles of responsible use of animal medicines. Any concerns about breaches by SQPs of professional standards or the SQP Code of Practice should be raised with me in writing,” Mr Dawson concluded.