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THE number of regional disease surveillance centres in Scotland could be reduced if the Scottish Government accepts a recommendation made by a panel that has reviewed arrangements for veterinary surveillance in Scotland.
The review panel was established by Richard Lochhead, cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the environment, and asked to examine the arrangements for gathering, monitoring and disseminating information on the spread of animal diseases in Scotland. In a foreword to the panel's report, Mr Lochhead comments that the existing system for surveillance had ‘evolved rather than being systematically planned’, and that ‘the time was ripe to consider whether the arrangements are efficient, effective and meet the needs of those who depend on fast and reliable information on animal diseases’.
Most veterinary surveillance in Scotland is provided by the Scottish Agricultural College, which has eight disease surveillance centres (DSCs) – in Aberdeen, Ayr, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Inverness, Perth, St Boswells and Thurso. There is also a central diagnostic laboratory in Edinburgh. The Moredun Research Institute also contributes to the system.
In the report, the review panel's chairman, John Kinnaird, a former president of the National Farmers' Union Scotland, says that the most difficult part of its remit concerned the number and location of DSCs. The panel was conscious, he says, that any change could have ‘a major and sometimes disproportionate effect in some regions’ and that there was a …