Financial support for official veterinarians (OVs)
Scottish Government to increase OV rates and assist with new training and registration costs.
The Scottish Government today announced plans to cover the costs of registration and training for Official Veterinarians (OVs) and increase the rates OVs are paid to undertake Government work.
Last year the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), which appoints OVs on behalf of Scottish Ministers, announced it was outsourcing OV training to Improve International, a private training provider, which requires OVs wishing to undertake Government work to register, for a fee, and undergo paid-for training modules relevant to the areas in which they wish to work.
Following recent discussions between the Scottish Government, representatives of the British Veterinary Association (Scottish Branch) and Highlands and Islands Veterinary Services Scheme, and involving APHA, a number of measures have been agreed to help support OVs.
The rates currently paid to OVs undertaking statutory work on behalf of the Scottish Government will be increased by 10 per cent, whilst new-entrant OVs who are working in Scotland and nominated by their practice will have their registration fees and training costs (for essential skills and tuberculosis testing modules only) covered by the Scottish Government for a period of three years.
Existing OVs who are actively undertaking TB testing or brucellosis/anthrax investigations will have the cost of their registration covered (up to 31 March 2015 only). OVs who have already registered with the new training provider and meet the qualifying criteria will be reimbursed. The cost of revalidating TB testing qualifications in 2017 for selected OVs who meet the qualifying criteria will also be met by the Scottish Government.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:
“Despite on-going budgetary pressures, we have listened to the concerns of individual Official Vets, practices and industry representatives, and, recognising that the rates paid to OVs haven’t increased since 2009, we have agreed to deliver a 10 per cent increase in the rates paid.
“We have listened also to concerns about the costs of the new training at a time when practice income from government funded work is declining and have agreed to provide support where we can, particularly for new OVs employed in Scotland as they face the greatest costs.
“The Scottish Government has supported rural veterinary practices for some time through the Highlands and Islands Veterinary Scheme and we are committed to continuing this support as we recognise the vital service that these practices provide.
“I am extremely keen to see Scotland retain its official TB-free status and robust, local OV capacity needs to be maintained for this to be the case. OVs also have a vital role to play in ensuring that animal disease more generally is quickly detected and eradicated.
“The package of support agreed with the industry is a Scottish solution to unique Scottish challenges and circumstances. I am grateful to the BVA and HIVSS for their constructive engagement in this process.”
BVA President John Blackwell said:
“BVA are pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss its concerns and that the Scottish Government has responded positively to help facilitate the continued provision of Official Veterinarian services.
“It demonstrates clear recognition of the pivotal role that the private veterinary surgeon fulfils in carrying out statutory disease surveillance on behalf of Government and a clear commitment to working in partnership to maintain a sustainable agricultural industry that underpins the rural economy within Scotland.”
BVA Scottish Branch Ronnie Soutar said:
“We very much welcomed the opportunity to discuss with the Scottish Government the potential for appropriate solutions to the issues faced by Scottish veterinary practices in respect to Official Veterinarian work. I believe that the Scottish Government’s proposals are a genuine step forward and, on behalf of colleagues throughout Scotland, we look forward to working further with the CVO and her team on the specifics still to be addressed.”
Other work carried out by OVs, for example issuing Pet Passports and Export Health Certification, will not be eligible for government funding as this is provided on a commercial basis by veterinary practices for their clients.
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