Veterinary profession's value to Scotland: preliminary economic assessment

A preliminary economic assessment of the veterinary profession’s value to Scotland.

1. Introduction

1.1 Context of the study

The steering group of Veterinary Delivery Landscape project (VDLP) has indicated that a significant evidence gap existed on the economic value of the veterinary profession in Scotland. Through the Scottish Government's Strategic Research Programme 2016 to 2021, SRUC, Scotland's Rural College asked to investigate the socio-economic value of the veterinary profession in Scotland. However, determining an economy-wide impact of veterinary profession requires a comprehensive economic impact assessment that is out-with the scope of this study's budget. This short preliminary study is considered a first step in providing a framework, and initial estimates, for a more rigorous economic impact assessment for the veterinary profession in Scotland.

1.2 Identifying impacts, data sources and methods

The first step in determining the economic value of the veterinary profession in Scotland was to identify different impact categories. Using the research call from the Veterinary Delivery Landscape project (VDLP) and expertise of the authors, six central categories of impacts for the veterinary profession were considered as the main focus. These were impact on: 1) farm animal productivity and related industries; 2) companion animals and related industries; 3) horse and equine industry; 4) public health, hygiene and surveillance activities; 5) tourism; 6) other impacts such as environment, wild life, education, research and policy.

From the outset of the research it was envisaged that possible evidence of the impact of veterinary profession could be classified under two class of "quantitative" and "qualitative" evidence. Therefore, relevant quantitative and qualitative data and information for each of the six impact categories were collected using rapid evidence assessment (REA). REA that is more rigorous than ad hoc searching was performed using both academic and non-academic search engines namely: Google and Goole Scholar. The initial key search word and combinations used were: "value of veterinary profession", "costs and benefits of veterinary", "economics of veterinary profession", "value of veterinary profession", "costs of animal health", "economics of animal health", and "cost of animal diseases". Identified quantitative evidence and figures were used to estimate costs and benefits of the identified impacts of the veterinary profession.

Regarding animal disease, the estimated values for each category of potential cost avoidance (or value of production loss) attributed to veterinary profession interventions were adjusted by a "contribution" factor. The presented figures in this report are based on assuming a triangular distribution for the probability that the impact can be attributed to the vet profession – using hypothetical values of: minimum 10%, most likely 20% and maximum 60% likelihood of veterinary impact attribution. A similar approach was used to modelling the probability of outbreaks of FMD, BSE, AI and salmonellosis, using probabilities of: minimum 2% (one in 50 years), most likely 5% (one in 20 years) and maximum 10% (one in 10 years). The values of the triangular distribution for BTV were assumed to be: minimum 5%, most likely 10% and maximum 20%. The model was run for 10,000 iterations to generate a distribution of the avoided costs.



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