A north politician has written to the new principal of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to highlight concerns about samples being transferred from its animal disease lab in Inverness.
John Finnie, the Greens’ rural affairs spokesman, expressed his concerns in a letter to professor Wayne Powell.
The SRUC veterinary disease surveillance service facility, operated on behalf of the Scottish Government, recently moved from Drummond Hill to the Beechwood campus.
SRUC researchers are based at the site along with consultants, and vet staff will be relocated to a new post-mortem facility, once found, elsewhere in the city.
It is understood that there are five less jobs in total as a result of the changes.
Mr Finnie states in his recent letter that he met with Mike Wijnberg, managing director of SAC Consulting, who assured him that following the change in facilities “the experience for the customer would be seamless”.
But Mr Finnie claims that he subsequently discovered from a reliable source that microbiology will not be taking place on site, with samples instead being sent to other sites across the country.
He adds: “I believe this raises serious questions regarding possible delays and the possible failure to identify infectious causes of death in animals subject to post-mortem examination at Inverness.
“Mr Wijnberg’s recent well-constructed reply failed to acknowledge the SRUC’s own study, designed and managed on live samples, which found that, ‘13% of significant bacterial isolates were lost following sample transfer compared to the same samples cultured on-site.’
“I understand that this report was sent to Scottish Government in February. I would be grateful for sight of this report and an indication of how SRUC have responded to it, particularly in relation to past and proposed procedures at Inverness.
“I’m lead to believe, we are to move to a bizarre situation where all microbiology from Inverness will be transferred to Aberdeen, but Inverness will continue as the reference centre for bacteria that other centres are having difficulty identifying.”
An SRUC spokeswoman said: “Mr Finnie’s letter was received this morning and our Chief Executive will respond directly to him in due course.”