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Tenders invited to supply veterinary services across government

An invitation-to-tender has been published for a framework to supply a diverse range of veterinary services to any UK government organisation, including AHVLA.

This is a separate tender to the managed service contract for veterinary services, which includes tuberculin testing by Official Veterinarians (OVs), which is expected to be published soon. 

What is being tendered?

Numerous government organisations, such as AHVLA, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland, the Food Standards Agency, and the Scottish and Welsh Governments, have responsibilities in the area of animal health and welfare. As well as their own permanent resources, these organisations need, at times, to buy-in commercial veterinary services.

This new framework aims to capture the complete range of veterinary services which may be needed on top of permanent in-house government resources during major incidents, such as serious exotic disease outbreaks, and other peaks in workload. The creation of a framework of suppliers will enable government organisations to access these services when they need to from suppliers that have already been assessed and can meet the requirements.

The framework provision, which will cover the whole of the UK, has the following lots:

Lot 1 – Veterinary personnel

The provider will be required to supply vets to cover staff shortages, peaks of work or to undertake specific activities which are not suitable for outsourcing. In some instances these vets will be appointed as a Veterinary Inspector under the Animal Health Act to carry out statutory functions.

Lot 2 – Animal health and animal care technicians and support staff

Technicians and support staff are a critical part of AHVLA’s workforce and are particularly important during disease outbreaks when they can undertake sampling, implement biosecurity measures, oversee contractors, collect data and handle animals.

The provider will be required to supply technicians, scientists, support or administrative staff who have animal health, animal handling or veterinary science skills for a range of animal species.

Lot 3 – Drop-in facilities

AHVLA, and others, need to maintain a responsive service across the whole of England, Scotland and Wales which requires some fixed locations. The cost of providing numerous government buildings to sustain this is becoming unaffordable, but it is inefficient for field staff to travel excessive distances.

Following a recent successful pilot, AHVLA is seeking to commission ‘drop-in’ centre amenities from veterinary practices and other businesses with suitable facilities. The facilities might be used as part of normal day-day business or as part of a disease outbreak response.

Lot 4 – Surveillance and diagnostic services

Providers are required to supply resources that supplement and enhance the government’s capability to investigate unexpected animal health or welfare or public health issues. This might include activities such as: the collection and analysis of data or samples; planning and organisation of active surveillance; testing samples; carrying out clinical and pathological examinations; the capability to carry out quality assured laboratory testing; post-mortem facilities and carcase disposal; and, in exceptional circumstances, tuberculin testing and other OV services.

Lot 5 – Vaccination

Providers are sought who can provide a team of vets, and technicians suitable to act as lay vaccinators and animal handlers, to administer vaccine, sometimes at short notice across a range of species.

Lot 6 – Stand-by veterinary services for animal / public health or welfare incidents

There is a trend for veterinary businesses to contract with specialist suppliers to undertake out of normal business hours work. Government has similar requirements for a provision of a rapid emergency or out-of-hours response to carry out an initial investigation of an animal health, public health or animal welfare incidents. Suppliers are sought to provide a stand-by service which will ensure a suitable skilled vet arrives at an incident, within geographically defined areas, within two hours of being called at any time of day or night, to carry out an investigation to a specified protocol and immediately report the results by telephone to AHVLA.

Lot 7 – Training and education

Changes in animal health and welfare policy need effective communication and, at times, liaison throughout the livestock sector in order to be implemented effectively. This may require that animal keepers, and their vets, are appropriately informed or trained. This requirement may arise due to routine legislative changes or an emerging disease situation.

The target audience could range from animal keepers (farmers and recreational pets such as horses) to veterinary surgeons and other interested parties such as animal transporters, exporters, markets, abattoirs, fallen stock collectors and the germplasm sector.

Providers are sought that can deliver this requirement, ranging from the provision of on-line training to delivery through a series of training or stakeholder events.

Lot 8 – Advisory services

There are many aspects of state veterinary medicine for which the expertise is held within government. There are occasions when this may be supplemented by bringing in additional expertise for policy development or emergency response.

Providers are sought which have  a multidisciplinary team, rather than an individual, so they are able to deliver complete packages of work in addition to ad-hoc advice.  

Lot 9 – Veterinary research

AHVLA undertakes a large programme of applied veterinary research and surveillance work across a range of veterinary pathogens of statutory and public health interest. As workloads dictate, it may be necessary to supplement existing resources with specialist skills to work on particular projects or work areas for variable periods of time, or to commission packages of work from institutions with suitable expertise.

Providers are sought who can supply expertise on ‘dry’ sciences including, but not limited to: epidemiology, risk assessment, mathematical modelling, bioinformatics, data handling, social sciences including, economics, sociology and psychology, specialist health and safety support. They are also sought in laboratory and field sciences including: bacteriology, virology, pathology, parasitology, testing and animal sciences.

Procurement timeline

The Invitation-to-Tender is published on Defra’s e-tendering system.

The tender period runs until 28 July, and it is planned that contracts will commence in October 2014.

Page published: 6 June 2014