The Scottish government has failed to explain the impact of independence on animal health control, research and disease surveillance, according to the British Veterinary Association.

BVA president Robin Hargreaves said vets looking for clearer answers about the future regulation of the veterinary profession in an independent Scotland had been frustrated.

Mr Hargreaves added that whatever happened in the vote on 18 September, it was vital Great Britain was recognised as a single epidemiological unit because disease knew no political boundaries.

“Since the 2011 Kinnaird report on veterinary surveillance in Scotland, the veterinary profession and livestock industry have been waiting to hear about plans for the future,” he told a meeting of Scottish farming leaders and vets on Tuesday (13 May).

“We’ve known that across the UK changes to scanning surveillance are being driven in large part by the need to reduce costs, but we have stated clearly that any decisions must be based on good surveillance and diagnostic outcomes, and not purely cost savings,” he said.

“In England and Wales we have raised concerns that AHVLA is in danger of dismantling the current system before a new system has been tried and tested.

“Here in Scotland we still await the detail of the changes. Without wishing to sound too pessimistic we know that’s where the devil lies.”

Mr Hargreaves added that he was seeking assurances on funding for Scotland’s network of research institutes and two veterinary schools, along with clarity on the future of 24/7 emergency cover.

Emergency cover had been a key theme of in-house discussions on the future of Scotland after the independence referendum.

“Our willingness to provide 24/7 cover and attend emergencies when appropriate is one of the main reasons that our clients and the general public place their trust in us. And so BVA supports the principle of the obligation, but the expectation must be realistic,” Mr Hargreaves said. “As the issue progresses we need to ensure that animal owners understand what they can reasonably expect, and the cost of that provision.”