Animal health and welfare

Scottish Veterinary Service (SVS)

Field delivery of animal health services in Scotland is currently undertaken by The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), an agency of Defra working on behalf of Defra and both the Scottish and Welsh Governments. On behalf of Scottish Ministers, APHA are the lead operational partner responsible for:

  • identifying and controlling notifiable endemic and exotic diseases in animals, and aspects of surveillance for new and emerging pests and diseases
  • scientific research in areas such as bacterial, viral, prion and parasitic diseases and vaccines. They act as an international reference laboratory for many farm animal diseases
  • facilitating international trade in animals and products of animal origin (PoAO)
  • regulating the safe disposal of animal by-products to reduce the risk of potentially dangerous substances entering the food chain

The budget to support the delivery of APHA activities in Scotland was devolved to the Scottish Government in April 2011, with a condition that the agency would continue to be funded to deliver these services for a period of three years. Given it was approaching nine years since the devolution of that budget, Scottish ministers appointed Professor Charles Milne to carry out an independent review of the animal health and welfare services delivered by the APHA in Scotland.

The review of the field delivery of animal health services in Scotland was received in early January 2020 and Scottish Ministers approved work to begin scoping out and evaluating a possible new Scottish Veterinary Service (SVS). Work was then paused but a new supplementary paper (February 2022) has been published. This takes into account factors such as EU Exit, COVID-19 and changes to legislation since the original report.

A Programme Board consisting of organisations that may become part of a new SVS (Scottish Government, Marine Scotland, Food Standards Scotland, APHA and Scottish Local Authorities) has been set up. The Board will provide Scottish Ministers with advice on the services, functions and potential governance arrangements that may be required for a new SVS.

Recommendations on the most effective model will be put to ministers by the end of March 2023, with the intention that a new Scottish Veterinary Service is created within the life of the current Parliament.

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