Section 5 – Areas for further work to inform decision making
During the process of the review it became apparent that further in-depth work was required to assess current arrangements and to assist with the process of decision making on, and the implementation of, the optimal model for the future delivery of operations services in Scotland.
Whichever model Scottish Ministers select the following work will be required:
29.1 Following the devolution of animal health and welfare funding in 2011 a small number of budgets were retained, on a GB basis, by Defra. It has not been possible as part of this process to fully elucidate the details of the GB budgets, what these deliver and what Scotland's 'share' of this money amounts to. Work is required to fully understand these arrangements with the view to fully devolve animal health and welfare budgets at the earliest opportunity. This would align budgets with policy responsibility resulting in appropriate accountability for the effective use of this resource.
30.1 Consideration is required regarding Scotland's future tracing delivery. ScotEID becomes fully functional in the summer of 2021. The four-way reporting capability allied with its interoperability with market, abattoir and on-farm software enables ScotEID to deliver excellent individual animal traceability. Whilst the current arrangements through the centralised services in Cardiff provide adequate support, there could be considerable advantages in having single traceability capability within Scotland which would include the work currently undertaken by APHA and the Scottish Animal Movement Unit managed by RPID and based in Dumfries. This could include reduced cost, an ability to focus on Scottish priorities and to enhance support for endemic disease eradication schemes and market access particularly through the premium Scottish brands.
31 Official Veterinarian (OV) engagement
31.1 Current arrangements do not appear to fit well with Scottish requirements. APHA have introduced specific arrangements for delivery in Orkney which might provide a way forward on the mainland. Further work is required to understand current constraints and the drivers that are impacting on veterinary practices with the view to strengthen arrangements in the future. Other countries, including in Scandinavia, face similar difficulties of delivery in remote areas and have developed solutions that might be applied in the Scottish context.
If the decision is taken to create an SVS then the following additional work will be required:
32 Role of a Scottish Veterinary Service
32.1 The future roles and responsibilities of an SVS need to be determined. Option 2 would require less development in that the SVS would, with minor modifications, mirror the work currently delivered by APHA in Scotland. Scottish stakeholders were overwhelmingly of the view that this approach would represent a missed opportunity. Option 3 could deliver a very different organisation. A range of functions has been suggested for inclusion if this option is progressed including the opportunity to create a centre of excellence for enforcement. Further work, including extensive consultation will be required to identify which functions should sit within this bespoke model.
33.1 This work would be undertaken once a decision has been made on which option Ministers prefer and will need to be consistent with public bodies policy in Scotland. Organisational design and structure will be an important element of the work required to create a successful new body and done well it could help to address some of the difficulties associated with recruitment, retention and succession planning currently experienced by APHA. There was agreement during the consultation exercise that an SVS should report to the CVO Scotland.
34 Provision of corporate support including IT
34.1 Arrangements for corporate support will need to be agreed to support a future SVS. The assumption is that SG's HR, Finance and H&S systems will be utilised by the new organisation, however, this needs to be confirmed and the implications of transition identified and managed. IT is a more complex consideration. Whilst SG IT can be utilised as the main platform for the new organisation work needs to be undertaken to map the complex landscape of databases within the animal health and welfare sphere to ensure a fully joined up approach going forward.
35 Centralised services
35.1 Several functions within APHA are delivered by centralised services. This approach has allowed the development of expertise and has resulted in the consistent delivery of services. These services include traceability, discussed above, the issuing of Export Health Certification, VENDU and the production and maintenance of the Operations Manual. The medium-term aim should be to embed these functions within the SVS, but the timing of this transition needs to be considered with the option of purchasing these services in the short term, if deemed appropriate, explored.
36 Reference laboratories
36.1 There is no technical, operational or economic argument for Scotland not to continue to utilise the diagnostic capability of the UK national reference laboratories in the future. Contracts for the ongoing provision of these services will be required to provide certainty for all parties. These agreements will need to cover the areas of work currently funded on a GB basis when these budgets are fully devolved.
37 Framework agreements
37.1 Animal health and welfare issues do not respect boundaries and can have an impact on trade which is UK based. Consequently, it will be important that an SVS maintains strong links and working agreements with our partners within the UK. This can be managed through the development of a series of framework agreements in areas including cross border arrangements, disease response, international trade, traceability, access to expertise etc. These would set out expectations and outline the support mechanisms in place between the administrations to facilitate the management of mutual interests.
38 Staff consultation
38.1 An important element of work in developing an SVS will be to manage the expectations and concerns of staff both within the new body but also within the other organisations affected by the change. Extensive consultation and involvement of staff in the change process will be required to maintain morale and to address these issues.
38.2 The creation of a Scottish Veterinary Service would be a major undertaking that will require extensive planning and consultation. The outcomes of the further work identified above will inform and support the transition and maximise the benefits of this exciting opportunity.