HR team rallies behind scene in farming crisis

The HR director at the hub of
the foot-and-mouth crisis is playing a vital role in recruiting and managing an
army of vets in the nationwide fight against the outbreak.

Teresa Newell, head of
personnel at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, has had to hire
vets from abroad to try and stem the spread of the disease.

The Maff personnel department
has worked overtime to recruit 69 vets from the US, Canada, New Zealand,
Australia and Switzerland.

The new vets are being
fast-tracked through the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons accreditation
process to allow them to practise in the UK.

Newell said, “We are looking
into a special remuneration scheme in recognition of the disturbance caused to

“Motivation has not been an
issue – the main problem is ensuring people do not work too long, particularly
those in the field.

“We have also had to deal with
relocating staff at short notice in order to man the support centres.

“One problem we have had is
ensuring people do not become too tired because many of them are working

On top of the 273 state vets,
the Maff also had to find 700 temporary veterinary investigators from private
practices across the UK, who are now working full-time to combat the disease.

Newell said the foot-and-mouth
outbreak had raised issues of long working hours among staff as emergency vets
and support staff work overtime to track down cases of the disease.

Newell’s 170-strong personnel
team are monitoring staff to ensure they do not contravene European working hours
regulations or compromise health and safety through fatigue.

Staff have had to cancel long
holidays arranged after February and have been encouraged to take shorter
breaks between duties.

By Richard Staines  

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