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New post-mortem examination providers

Additional providers of subsidised post-mortem examinations will be available to support veterinary businesses in their diagnostic work from 1 September. They will also form part of a wider scanning surveillance network which includes AHVLA, the wider veterinary profession and the livestock industry.

As part of AHVLA’s new approach to improving access to diagnostic support for private veterinary businesses and enhance scanning surveillance, AHVLA-operated Veterinary Investigation Centres are being supplemented by:

  • The Royal Veterinary College – serving areas of East England
  • SAC Consulting Veterinary Services – serving areas in North East England
  • The University of Bristol – serving areas of South West England
  • The University of Surrey – serving the East Midlands and South East and parts of the East, South West and North West England (from autumn – winter 2014/15).

By adding additional post-mortem examination (PME) providers to AHVLA’s network of post-mortem centres, and through the introduction of a funded carcase collection and transport service to serve areas more than one hour from a PME centre, AHVLA is increasing the proportion of livestock holdings with good access to diagnostic and surveillance sites.

Accessing diagnostic support

The Royal Veterinary College, SAC Consulting Veterinary Services and the University of Bristol will begin providing expert PME investigations on 1 September 2014.

The University of Surrey, in some areas utilising local facilities, will provide expert PME services in the East Midlands and South East England and parts of the East, South West and North West of England from autumn – winter 2014/15.

Veterinary businesses can access diagnostic support initially by contacting their nearest PME facility:

Area served

PME facility


South West England1
  • AHVLA Starcross
  • University of Bristol
  • 01626 891121
  • 0117 9289402
East England2
  • AHVLA Bury St Edmunds
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • 01284 724499
  • 01707 666630
East Midlands1
  • AHVLA Sutton Bonington4
  • 01509 672332
West Midlands3
  • AHVLA Shrewsbury
  • AHVLA Sutton Bonington4
  • 01743 467621
  • 01509 672332
North West England1
  • AHVLA Penrith
  • 01768 885295
North East England
  • SAC Consulting Veterinary Services
  • AHVLA Thirsk
  • 01835 822456
  • 01845 522065
Yorkshire & Humberside
  • AHVLA Thirsk
  • 01845 522065
  • AHVLA Carmarthen
  • 01267 235244

1 University of Surrey will serve the South East of England and East Midlands, and parts of the East, South West and North West of England from autumn-winter 2014/15.

2 In addition, the University of Surrey will also serve some parts of the East of England from autumn – winter 2014/15.

3 Tenders to identify additional PME providers in these areas will be re-published shortly.

4 AHVLA will no longer undertake PMEs at Sutton Bonington from autumn / winter 2014.

A postcode-based ‘site-finder’ will shortly be published on the AHVLA website.

Dates for the commencement of the University of Surrey’s PME service have yet to be contractually agreed, but details will be published as soon as they are available.

The University of Liverpool will no longer provide a PME service from 31 August 2014. A carcase collection service, funded for three years, has been introduced to serve the North West of England. This will bridge the gap until the University of Surrey’s PME service becomes operational in the North West of England during winter 2014/15.

Private vets wishing to submit a carcase must discuss this first with the post mortem facility. A disposal fee will be charged for any carcases received without prior agreement.

Postal submissions should continue to be sent to AHVLA laboratories as now (see attached information leaflet).

Carcase collection and transport

In the majority of areas more than one hour from a PME facility, AHVLA is introducing a carcase collection and transport service. This service is fully funded for up-to three years, pending the development of other PME provision locally. Access to this service is via the nearest AHVLA Veterinary Investigation Centre.

In addition, non-AHVLA PME providers may also be providing a chargeable carcase transport service in the areas they serve.

Pending the commencement of the University of Surrey’s PME service, carcase transport arrangements in the areas previously served by AHVLA PME centres at Polwhele (Truro), Winchester and Preston are in place.

The carcase transport service in the areas previously served by the AHVLA Luddington and Aberystwyth are also continuing pending the identification of an additional PME provider or longer term transport arrangements (see below). As the Aberystwyth site will close on 31 August 2014, carcases should, from this date, be delivered to a collection centre at Lampeter (or can be collected on farm depending on the farm’s location) after discussion with the duty Veterinary Investigation Officer at AHVLA Carmarthen. AHVLA continues to seek an expert provider of PME services, with the intention of providing a veterinary investigation facility in mid/north Wales.

Improving diagnostic expertise and threat intelligence

A dedicated Surveillance Intelligence Unit (SIU) has been created within AHVLA. This incorporates the Leads of the Species Expert Groups, which are information and expertise sharing networks with membership from across AHVLA, industry and academia.

The SIU is tasked with:

  • The collation and analysis of epidemiological, pathological and diagnostic testing results (from AHVLA and partner providers), combining this with knowledge of the livestock population and industry practices.
  • Exploring other / new sources of data and intelligence to add value to the analyses to provide horizon scanning and reassurance of early warning of new and emerging threats.
  • Publishing surveillance reports that can be used to support evidence based decision making at all levels – farmer, vet and Government.

Private vets wishing to discuss an issue with a species expert should contact any AHVLA Veterinary Investigation Centre.

Key surveillance findings are regularly published in the Veterinary Record and more detailed species reports are published on the AHVLA website. During September 2014 a dedicated website will be launched to serve as a single portal for all information published by AHVLA aimed at private vets. This will improve accessibility to content, such as surveillance reports, Official Veterinarian instructions and access to AHVLA’s online systems, such as Sam, and the future online sample submission system described below.

Next steps

Additional PME providers

Additional PME providers to serve parts of Wales and the West Midlands will be sought through a competitive procurement exercise. These will serve those areas beyond the one-hour’s travel catchment areas of the Carmarthen and Shrewsbury Veterinary Investigation Centres. A ‘Supplier Day’ aimed at prospective bidders is being held at the Royal Welsh Show Ground, Builth Wells on 16 September 2014. Following this, invitations-to-tender will be published on Defra’s e-procurement system, Bravo, at:

Improving the processing of postal submissions

A new IT system will allow you to book-in postal samples online, including test selection. This will speed up processing, allow you to monitor progress and access diagnostic reports as soon as they become available. The system will be available from early spring 2015.

New training in diagnostic pathology

AHVLA is also looking at ways to improve pathology training for private vets. This would enhance the skills of private vets undertaking first opinion PMEs at fallen stock centres or elsewhere, further enabling the diagnosis of more common issues, as well as potentially providing surveillance data.

A recent survey of private vets confirmed demand for such training and AHVLA is now working with potential training providers to explore how such training can best be developed. Further announcements are likely in early 2015.

Published: 1 September 2014