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SRUC announces new model for disease surveillance
“This model will allow the expertise available within SRUC to be harnessed more effectively for the benefit of all livestock production in Scotland” - George Caldow.

Model implements recommendations of the Kinnaird Review


Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has announced changes to its farm animal disease surveillance model.

Implementing the recommendations of the Kinnaird Review, the proposed model includes:

  • expertise in a new £1.6m SRUC Veterinary and Analytical Laboratory. This will be based inside the Moredun Research Institute near Edinburgh.
  • a new disease intelligence centre to improve passive surveillance using big data. This will help farmers and veterinary practitioners react sooner to disease outbreaks and better predict where they will occur.
  • a new veterinary hub model and local advice service available to all regions of Scotland. SRUC will work closely with vets to investigate animal disease and production problems through modern diagnostic methods.

The proposed model has been developed through engagement with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Government’s Strategic Management Board for disease surveillance. SRUC says the proposals are made ‘against a backdrop of pressure on budgets and the need for SRUC to find operational efficiencies'. 


“The challenge has been to create a new model of disease surveillance that provides the necessary amount of coverage within a reduced budget,” explained George Caldow, head of SRUC Veterinary Services. “This led us to look at how we use technology and new approaches to improve efficiency and proactively look at improving animal production. 


“This model will allow the expertise available within SRUC to be harnessed more effectively for the benefit of all livestock production in Scotland.”

The proposed new model means that post-mortem facilities in Ayr and Perth will close. Post-mortem examinations ceased the Lothians and Inverness earlier this year. The new veterinary hubs will operate locally to cover all four locations. 


SRUC has entered a period of statutory consultation with colleagues at the risk of redundancy or redeployment by these proposals. 


Mr Caldow continued: “The proposed new model has meant some difficult decisions about the closure of post-mortem facilities. Dairy, beef, sheep and pig surveillance will be supported by at least one post-mortem facility in an area of intensive production. The provision of post-mortem and pathology services will remain an essential part of our surveillance delivery model. 


“We look forward to developing a closer working relationship with livestock farmers and their vets that will help promote healthy and productive livestock. The changes will allow us to deliver a disease surveillance service that is appropriate for the needs of livestock farming as it is today and how it must be in the future.”

Sheila Voas, Chief Veterinary Officer (Scotland), said: “The new model for disease surveillance will enable farmers and veterinary practitioners to continue their contribution to the detection of new and emerging infections in animals which is essential for the protection of Scotland’s valuable livestock sector. The new model being put in place by SRUC will ensure that the optimum support is in place to deal with any emerging threats. 


“By using resources more effectively, through consolidating and integrating Scotland’s expertise at the new Veterinary and Analytical Laboratory, we will see timely and cost-effective diagnoses which benefits everyone.”

The model is expected to be operational across Scotland by 1 April 2020.

 

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