25 August 1995

Risk to stock health denied

FARM minister Douglas Hogg has rejected fears that government is risking Britains high animal status by planned cuts to the state veterinary service.

"There appears to be widespread misunderstanding about the effect of the proposals for streamlining the regional and divisional management structure of the veterinary field service," said Mr Hogg in a letter to British Veterinary Association president Paul DeVile.

He said "very few" of the field services offices will be closed and that this will be "roughly balanced by the opening of new offices".

"I am entirely confident that, by retaining the number of front-line veterinary staff and animal health officers, the VFS will continue to be in a position to respond rapidly to disease outbreaks and local incidents," said Mr Hogg.

He also answered vets protests over plans to merge veterinary investigation centres with the Central Veterinary Laboratory to create a MAFF executive agency.

The BVA warned former farm minister William Waldegrave that the "muddled" management of the Meat Hygiene Service and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, both MAFF agencies, had given it "no grounds for confidence".

It had said there appeared to be a conflict of interest within the VMD, which is responsible for product licensing as well as contributing to policy. It was also critical of the way in which the transfer of meat hygiene control to the MHS has been handled.

Mr Hogg said he did not accept the BVAs claims.

Responding in the same issue of the Veterinary Record, Mr Devile repeated that "on the basis of experience with agencies to date, the BVA has no grounds for confidence". &#42