Section 6 – Conclusions and recommendations
39.1 Both a GB or Scottish approach to animal health and welfare operations services are viable options going forward. For a GB model to be effective greater effort will be required to ensure that Scottish policy requirements and priorities are recognised and delivered. This will be increasingly important in a post Brexit era where legislative and policy divergence is likely not least due to differing farming conditions, disease control priorities and target markets. Such an organisation would require improved communication between Scottish Government and APHA and a governance structure that recognises the role of SG as a key customer and funder.
39.2 The creation of a Scottish Veterinary Service presents an exciting opportunity to improve and modernise animal health and welfare operational delivery in Scotland. It would allow local ownership of delivery and ensure close alignment between policy and delivery. It would be more focussed and flexible allowing rapid redeployment of resources to address changing priorities.
39.3 In undertaking the review process into current and potential arrangements in Scotland the following recommendations have been developed:
Recommendation 1 – the creation of a stand-alone Scottish animal health and welfare delivery body would best meet Scotland's long-term interests.
Recommendation 2 –the transition to a separate Scottish Veterinary Service provides an opportunity to deliver efficiencies and enhanced service excellence through the formation of a bespoke delivery body with a wider range of functions than that currently delivered by APHA in Scotland. Additional areas for consideration could include, but not be limited to; meat hygiene inspection, animal feed controls, scanning surveillance, aquatic disease control, bee health as well as a greater clarity and responsibility for farmed animal health and welfare enforcement.
Recommendation 3 - a Scottish Veterinary Service should report directly to the CVO Scotland.
Recommendation 4 – the CVO Scotland will require adequate support structures to manage these additional responsibilities including business and project management expertise.
Recommendation 5 – the transition to, and future maintenance of, the Scottish Veterinary Service will require adequate resourcing to ensure that the requirements of Scotland's important livestock and food and drink sectors are safeguarded.
Recommendation 6 – the remaining budgets held by Defra on a GB basis should be devolved to increase transparency, ensure alignment with policy, and allow effective management to ensure value for money.
Recommendation 7 – Scotland should continue to utilise the Pirbright and Weybridge UK reference laboratories for the diagnosis of exotic notifiable diseases. Suitable arrangements will need to be implemented to ensure that change does not have a negative impact on the ability of these laboratories to deliver these essential functions.
Recommendation 8 – further work will be required to ensure a successful transition to a new body with minimal risk to both Scotland and other UK administrations. This will include consideration of how functions including, traceability, Export Health Certification, the Operations Manual (some of which are currently centralised), will be delivered.
Recommendation 9 – documented agreements will need to be developed to ensure joined up delivery of surveillance, disease incursion response, trade agreements and the support for audits by trading partners.
Recommendation 10 – as part of the work to develop a future Scottish Veterinary Service consideration should be given to existing models in Northern Ireland and internationally. Models that address similar challenges, industry and trading patterns including the Scandinavian countries and New Zealand could provide valuable insights to inform this exercise.