24 May 2018

Following media reports stating that a veterinary practice was advising a Winton farm some 1600 kilometers away, the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) has released a statement setting out the rules in relation to the provision of distance veterinary services and its position on this activity.

NZVA President Peter Blaikie said:

?We do not know the details of what occurred in this reported case, so cannot comment on this specific situation.

However generally speaking, under the current Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act1, it is possible to legally provide distance veterinary services. This includes authorising veterinary medicines, with a number of conditions. These include personally providing any emergency or follow-up care as required, or veterinarians making arrangements for another veterinarian to provide this care. Veterinarians are also required to capture sufficient information before authorising veterinary medicines.

However, the typical practice is for farmers to use veterinary practices that are based in their regions.

While the NZVA acknowledges the legality of providing distance veterinary services, the Association has concerns that some distance veterinary services and authorising of medicines may not adhere to the required level of professional conduct expected and required of our profession. This includes providing emergency or follow-up care. Appropriate authorisation of medicines and advice on biosecurity required to safeguard New Zealand agriculture also requires a veterinary presence past the farm gate.

The NZVA maintains that the best animal care and welfare outcomes, as well as the best product stewardship outcomes, arise where farmers and their veterinarians have strong relationships and there is a real and regular veterinary presence on farm.

The NZVA has also always considered that a veterinary presence on farm is our greatest biosecurity protection for the early detection of new and emerging disease, as was evidenced by the veterinary interventions and diagnosis of M. bovis in North Otago.?

This is done via the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Notice


The Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Notice provides guidance that states: ?What constitutes sufficient information is generally based on the professional judgement of the authorising veterinarian. However, the veterinarian must be able to defend that judgement successfully in light of common and accepted professional standards and practice of the veterinarian?s peers.

The Veterinarian Council of New Zealand provides definitions of what is a veterinary consultation. A veterinary consultation must include the veterinarian:

  1. interviewing the client (or a legitimate and authorised representative of the client);
  2. collecting and recording sufficient information relevant to the individual circumstances to ensure the proposed course of action (including treatment) is appropriate and meets the needs and best interests of the animal(s) and the client;
  3. obtaining appropriate consent to the proposed course of action;
  4. being given and accepting responsibility for the ongoing health and welfare of the animal(s) concerned in relation to the consultation. This includes arranging emergency care taking into consideration the circumstances and the potential for adverse effects from, or failure of the agreed course of action;
  5. determining and providing the appropriate level of advice and training in order to be satisfied that the agreed course of action can occur as planned.

Consultation will usually involve the animal(s) having been seen by the veterinarian at the time of the consultation. If not, they will have been seen recently or often enough for the veterinarian to have sufficient personal knowledge of the condition/health status of the animal(s). This consultation is required in order for the veterinarian to be able to propose the particular course of action/treatment.