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November 30 2004





A consultation document was issued on 1 July on a review into the future organisational and delivery options for the State Veterinary Service (SVS). It recommended that the SVS should become an Executive Agency on 1 April 2005. The consultation closed on 23 September.

The Responses

Approximately 500 organisations, bodies and individuals were invited to comment and we received a total of 20 responses from England and Wales. A parallel exercise was conducted in Scotland and 6 responses were received.

Although the total was a small percentage of those invited to comment it was, nevertheless, a very representative cross section of interested parties. It included the British Veterinary Association, National Farmers’ Union, National  Beef Association, National Pig Association, National Sheep Association, the Meat and Livestock Commission and the Council of Civil Service Unions (CCSU). A list of those submitting responses in England and Wales is given at the end of this summary together with details of how to obtain copies. Details of how to access Scottish consultation documents and responses are also provided.

The Views

Although concerns were expressed (and are being addressed), the move towards agency status was generally welcomed and organisations pledged their support to working with us to achieve the best outcome in terms of organisational structure, working practices and arrangements for the future delivery of veterinary services. Several commented on their perception that political and policy drivers appeared to have more prominence in the decision making process than animal welfare. A common theme was a plea for an outward facing organisation focused on the animals and their welfare and the prevention and control of disease. All urged greater involvement of and partnership with the community out on the ground in the evolution of best practice and effective delivery.

Many foresaw the risk that separating policy and delivery might exacerbate communication problems, especially during emergencies. They urged the continued involvement of SVS in the formulation of policy that is based on best practice on the ground and a joined-up approach to effective delivery.

Enhanced contingency planning should be one of the objectives of the reorganisation. The implications of Agency status on contingency planning and disease control should be fully thought through before the Agency comes into being. On funding, respondents sought assurances that the Agency would be adequately funded and that the routes for funding should be simple and not limit the flexibility of the Agency to provide a comprehensive and responsive service.

What are we doing next?

Having considered the responses Ministers in Defra, the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly Government have decided to continue with the programme to launch the Agency and its Framework Document, Key Targets and Corporate Strategy will be published shortly before the 1 April launch date.

We are taking note of the views expressed during the consultation as we move forward and are making appropriate adjustments to the implementation plan for the Agency. We have established an advisory group to maintain contact with all stakeholders pre- and post-launch and further influence the plan.

In line with the recommendations of the Purnell report consideration is still being given to incorporation in the Agency of the Dairy Hygiene Inspectorate and Egg Marketing Inspectorate. Any such transfer will not take place before 1 April 2005.

Responding to the comments on the importance of policy reflecting best practice on the ground, and in line with Defra’s Delivery Strategy, we will ensure SVS input to policy development through participation in Animal Health and Welfare Programmes. In addition arrangements for interchanging staff between the Agency and the Directorate General Animal Health and Welfare are being developed.

List of those who responded

Caernarfon Animal Health Office

Perth and Kinross Council Animal Health and Welfare Services

Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers

Council of Civil Service Unions

The Family Farmers Association

The Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland

The Local Authorities Co-ordinator of Regulatory Services

Meat and Livestock Commission

National Beef Association

National Farmers Union

National Pig Association

National Sheep Association

Community Protection Service of Somerset County Council

The Composting Association

Vegetarian Economy & Green Agriculture

National Association of Agricultural Contractors

Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Farm Animal Welfare Council

British Veterinary Association

British Cattle Veterinary Association

Copies of the responses

England & Wales:

Full copies of all the responses are available from Defra’s Information Resource Centre (IRC). The IRC (formerly the Library, located on the Lower Ground Floor, Ergon House, c/o 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR) will supply copies of consultation responses on request to personal callers or to telephone enquirers (Tel 020 7238 6712). To avoid delays personal callers should give the IRC 24 hours' notice of their requirements. An administrative charge to cover the cost of photocopying and postage will apply.


All consultation papers and their responses are available for viewing in the Scottish Executive Information & Library Services at K Spur, Saughton House, Edinburgh. Enquiries regarding viewing can be directed to individual departments or to the Library on 0131-244-4565.