Section 3 – Options for the delivery of government animal health and welfare services in Scotland
15 Future options
15.1 An important principle in considering future options is that any change must not undermine the status and reputation of the Scottish livestock industries and the production chains that they support, or Scotland's ability to fulfil its international obligations. A future model must also be able to meet the commitments of SG as articulated in the Animal Health and Welfare Strategy 2016 – 2021 as well as wider policy targets.
15.2 It is pertinent to record the widespread recognition that the GB delivery model has a proven track record of delivering animal health and welfare services in Scotland (and GB) over many decades. This model has effectively supported trade including the development and maintenance of robust surveillance and traceability systems. In addition, it has managed significant disease challenges including Foot and Mouth disease in 2001 and the BSE crisis albeit these occurred whilst the organisation was embedded in core government. Any changes must not have a negative impact on trade and the ability to manage incursions of exotic epidemic animal diseases. It is also recognised that there are advantages in a GB organisation in managing transborder disease outbreaks whilst acknowledging that there may be policy differences between administrations in how the disease, and the wider impacts of an outbreak, are managed.
15.3 Three potential options for the delivery of animal health and welfare services in Scotland have been identified:
1 – Retain current arrangements with APHA working with the agency to deliver improvements to address some of the shortcomings identified by this review;
2 – Create a Scottish Veterinary Service (SVS) which would undertake the functions currently delivered by APHA on behalf of Scottish Ministers; and
3 – Create a new SVS which would provide a bespoke model of delivery of animal health and welfare services in Scotland which would include the functions currently delivered by APHA on behalf of Scottish Ministers but could include wider responsibilities to drive synergy and effective delivery of operations services within the Scottish context.
15.4 The organisation created to address options 2 or 3 should not be a return to an historical model but should build on the many advances made by the various agencies since 2005. In both options it is envisaged that the resulting organisation should report to the CVO Scotland who will need to be provided with the support structure required to manage this significantly expanded role. Consideration of the appropriate structure for an SVS, whether option 2 or 3, will be required once the scope of responsibilities has been determined. Embedding the organisation within central government, a similar approach to that taken in Northern Ireland, or creating a new Executive Agency are possible models the merits of which need to be thoroughly considered.