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Veterinary surveillance scrutinised
Proposals to improve the way vital information on animal disease is gathered, analysed and shared were recently published by the Scottish Government.
The Review of Veterinary Surveillance, carried out by a panel chaired by ex-NFUS president John Kinnaird, proposes:
Establishing a Strategic Management Board - chaired by Scotland's chief vet and including industry representatives and vets - to oversee veterinary surveillance
The Strategic Management Board should consider a phased reduction in the number of Disease Surveillance Centres (DSCs), putting in place alternative means of service delivery
Establishing a single central laboratory to test surveillance samples from the DSCs
Better balancing costs between government and animal keepers
Responding to the report, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said he had accepted the recommendation to set up a Strategic Management Board and would consider the remaining recommendations carefully.
Mr Lochhead said:
"An efficient and effective early warning system to identify new and emerging disease threats is vital to the success of our livestock industries which is why I commissioned this review.
"I'd like to thank John Kinnaird and the review panel for producing a very thorough report that meets the needs of farmers, crofters, veterinary surgeons and the Scottish Government.
"I am immediately accepting the recommendation to establish a Strategic Management Board, bringing industry, veterinary and public health representatives into the decision-making process. I have written to stakeholders today to seek their views on who should be appointed.
"I will now consider other parts of the report and recommendations carefully and will make announcements in due course.
"This government fully recognises the importance of veterinary surveillance work which is why this area was protected in this year's budget from any further spending cuts for the next three years.
"The Disease Surveillance Centres perform a valuable role but it is vital that we ensure that we have the right number of these in the right locations, to meet the challenges facing Scotland today and in the future.
"While today's report says that the number of centres should be reduced, no recommendations have been made on the number or location of centres to be retained. I will consider this very carefully, using the road map contained in the report, before reaching my decision."
Most veterinary surveillance is provided by the Scottish Agricultural College through the eight Disease Surveillance Centres - in Aberdeen, Ayr, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Inverness, Perth, St Boswells and Thurso. There is also a central diagnostic laboratory in Edinburgh.