When CHECS was created, it needed to be sure the schemes it licensed were maintaining standards, so regular auditing was put in place. Initially audits ensured each health scheme was testing accurately for disease, but latterly it ensures farmers and vets are complying with the rules.
All laboratories run by CHECS licensed health schemes must be accredited to ISO:17025 and ISO:9001. They must also meet Good Laboratory Practice Regulations (GLP).
CHECS aims to audit around 250 farms every year to see how producers and their herd vets are adhering to the requirements of their health scheme; CHECS gives one week’s notice for such inspections. It also conducts random spot-checks at shows, markets, winter fairs and sales across the country to ensure standards are being upheld.
When CHECS finds evidence of non-conformance, a ‘CHECS Action Point List’ is issued to the farmer/herd manager. They must complete the ‘corrective action and planned completion date’ section and return a signed copy to CHECS within 30 days of the audit visit.
The relevant health scheme provider is also notified, who must follow up with the herd manager to check that remedial action is taken. If no action is found to have been taken, the consequences are severe; the herd loses any status it has gained and returns to unaccredited status. Shows, sales and markets are notified accordingly.
The most common instances of non-conformance found are:
Herd owners, managers and vets participating in a cattle health scheme should familiarise themselves with advice on biosecurity and how they can achieve the standards set. This information is contained in either the Technical Document or Technical Standard for TB.