Fife is facing a shortage of trained environmental health officers, councillors have been warned.
There are currently five unfilled vacancies – nearly a third of the 17-strong department.
Councillor Tim Brett, leader of Fife Council’s Lib Dem group, said it was a particular concern at the moment.
“These key staff have a major role in protecting the public from harm and deal with food safety such as inspections of restaurants, takeaways and food production facilities,” he said.
“The EHOs also have a major role in dealing with the present Covid-19 crisis as they work closely with the public health team of NHS Fife as part of the test and protect and other arrangements.”
Mr Brett said salaries for EHOs were lower in Fife compared to other authority areas, exacerbating a national shortage.
Nigel Kerr, head of the council’s protective services, said the Society of Chief Officers of Environmental Health in Scotland and the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland had established a workforce strategy group to make recommendations to address the issue.
SNP councillor Ross Vettraino, convener of Environment and Protective Services, said theScottish Government had made additional funds available to help recruit EHOs.
He said: “It gives me cause to be optimistic that the government will join with local authorities to address the current shortage of qualified staff.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “While management of workforces are for councils as independent bodies accountable to their electorates, we are aware of recruitment issues around EHOs and would be happy to discuss this further through Cosla.
“Funding of up to £2.9 million has been allocated over the next two financial years to allow local authorities to step up inspection and enforcement. We are working with Cosla on the allocation of this funding to local authorities.
“This provides more resource for local authorities to support their functions and help create safe workplaces for all.”
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