Dorset SQP in breach of professional standards

Peter Barker, director of Barkers Animal Health based in Wimborne, Dorset, has been found to be in “breach of professional standards” by the Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA). 

Mr Barker, a Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) permitted to prescribe and supply certain animal medicines, was found to have produced a brochure for customers that gave wrong information about treating parasites in sheep and cattle. 

Stephen Dawson, Secretary General of AMTRA, the professional regulatory body for SQPs, said: “In their work helping farmers with the health of their livestock, SQPs have to follow a strict Code of Practice. Following the complaint about Peter Barker, AMTRA’s Professional Standards Committee concluded that his brochure on treatment of parasites in sheep and cattle fell short of what would be expected from a responsible SQP. A Letter of Warning was subsequently sent to Mr Barker. This is the highest sanction available to AMTRA short of removal from the SQP register. 

“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,” continues Mr Dawson. “We were particularly concerned that the brochure appeared to encourage use of products that went beyond what is permitted by the approved product label. This is not only contrary to regulations on veterinary medicines, but misuse or overuse of medicines could harm the health of the animals in our care.” 

“The medicine’s authorisation and associated product label are based on research and product knowledge and are there for a reason. Off-label prescription of animal medicines can only be done by a veterinary surgeon in limited circumstances, and not by an SQP.  

“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. In fact AMTRA 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 concludes.