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Animal care

Roles and responsibilities

In accordance with ASPA, The Pirbright Institute has the following roles and responsibilities, all of which work together to ensure the highest standards of animal care and welfare:

Establishment Licence Holder (ELH)

The ELH is accountable for the performance and conduct of the named persons. The role ensures that named persons have the necessary authority to carry out their roles effectively.    This Named responsibility ensures that the requirements of ASPA and conditions of the Licence are complied with.

Named Compliance Officer (NCO)

This Named responsibility ensures that the requirements of ASPA and conditions of the Licence are complied with.

Named Veterinary Surgeon (NVS)

The NVS is responsible for, monitors and provides advice on the health, welfare and treatment of animals and helps the Establishment Licence holder to fulfil his/her responsibilities.

The NVS is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) with expertise in the species being used at The Pirbright Institute and is actively involved, on a day to day basis, in safeguarding the welfare of animals at Pirbright.

Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer (NACWO)

NACWO’s are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day husbandry, care and welfare of the protected animals held at The Pirbright Institute.

They are a source of independent advice on welfare and care to minimise suffering and optimise the welfare of all animals that are bred, kept for use or used at the Institute.

A high percentage of Animal Technicians are also trained to NACWO level.

Named Information Officer (NIO)

The NIO is responsible for ensuring that those dealing with animals in The Pirbright Institute have access to information they need about the species held here and procedures being performed.

Named Training and Competency Officer (NTCO)

This Named responsibility ensures that all those dealing with animals are adequately educated, trained and supervised until they are competent and that they continue to undertake continued professional development to maintain their expertise.

The Pirbright Institute’s Animal Technicians are experienced specialists in the care of animals. They are all trained in daily animal handling, husbandry, the recognition of signs of pain, distress and disease and the ethics on the use of animals in research.

All of The Pirbright Institute’s Animal Technicians undertake an accredited Personal Licence training course. Once qualified, they receive further practical training and supervision to enable them to undertake Licenced procedures at The Pirbright Institute.
Each animal unit has a Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer (NACWO) to ensure that the highest standards of animal welfare, husbandry and care are in place. A high percentage of Animal Technicians are also trained to NACWO level.

Our NACWO’s meet regularly to provide a platform for capturing suggestions, ideas and promoting the 3Rs. Agenda items are agreed in advance and minutes are taken and later circulated. Relevant points are then condensed into a NACWO report on the AWERB standing Agenda. This ensures that the NACWO’s are provided with a forum for discussion of the use of animals, including welfare, best practice and opportunities for improvements etc.

The Pirbright Institute also has a Home Office Liaison team. The team corresponds with and coordinates all Home Office activities thus ensuring compliance under ASPA.  

The Home Office Liaison team are also a key contact for researchers proposing to undertake research involving animals. Research cannot commence until approval from the team has been received.

Animal care

All animals are checked at a minimum twice daily by the Animal Technicians, the NACWO’s and/or a veterinary surgeon to ensure that they are in good health. The Pirbright Institute ensures that comprehensive veterinary support is available at all times to ensure any welfare concerns are dealt with as quickly as possible.

Animal health records are completed by our Animal Technicians upon receiving the animals. These forms document:

  • the identity of the animals (including ear tag numbers);
  • descriptions of any illnesses, injuries or behavioral problems;
  • dates and details of all medical observations, examinations or procedures
  • dates and details of all treatments
We strongly believe that education and training is the key to raising standards of animal welfare. To this end, The Pirbright Institute is committed to providing continued professional development opportunities to ensure that employees working with animals have the knowledge and skills required to fulfil their job roles effectively.

The Pirbright Institute recognises that its overall success is dependent upon having employees in place across the organisation that are capable of fulfilling their job roles and making a positive contribution towards the achievement of both short and long term organisational goals.

All Personal Licence holders at The Pirbright Institute undertake practical training under supervision until confirmed as competent in each technique. Many factors will influence these ongoing training and competency needs. For example, if a researcher is looking to start a new technique, work with a new species or implement new knowledge such as new anesthetic or analgesic agents or methods, they will need to review their training needs with The Pirbright Institute’s NTCO before commencing.

Until an approved named trainer is satisfied that a member of staff has achieved competence in a particular technique and species, they are not allowed to apply regulated procedures unless given the appropriate level of supervision. This is to ensure that regulated procedures are performed competently.

All Personal Licence holders are invited to regularly review their competence and any additional training needs they may have. The frequency of this review will depend upon the technical nature of the procedures they perform; how frequently they undertake those procedures; whether they are proposing to embark on new procedures or use new types of animals; and the state of change in the field in which they are working.

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