SCOTS GOVT DISPUTES CLAIMS ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFICER SHORTFALL
Scots Govt disputes claims about Environmental Health Officer shortfall. References to a Scottish ‘shortfall’ in Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) available to sign Export Health Certificates (EHC) for exports, including seafood, to the EU with regards to Brexit have been labelled as ‘unhelpful and misleading’ by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing.
In a letter to Victoria Prentis, the UK Government’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Mr Ewing challenged an answer she had provided to a Parliamentary Question, in which the UK Government Minister referenced modelling undertaken by Defra suggesting a ‘shortfall’ in Scotland in excess of 100 EHOs. Mr Ewing described the modelling as being ‘very wide of the mark’ and said that, based on returns from Scottish local authorities, the true figure is about 15.
Mr Ewing highlighted that there is a shortage of suitably trained and qualified staff for this role across the UK as a whole and asked that UK Government Ministers stop making misleading references to a “shortfall” of EHOs in Scotland and instead present the wider context of the overall shortage of qualified staff across the UK which has been required to meet an additional demand arising from the UK Government’s approach to Brexit.
Mr Ewing’s letter goes on to underline that actions taken by the Scottish Government, including developing a risk-based approach to certification, and establishing a Food Standards Scotland signing service at three central Scotland logistics hubs, have contributed to making the problem of securing an EHC more manageable.