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QMS Coronavirus Update

From week commencing 16 March, the UK Prime Minister and the Scottish Government have described the evolving impact of the coronavirus and laid out further steps to delay its spread.  As the situation develops at pace, we’ve been closely monitoring the official guidance from the World Health Organisation, as well as local health authorities and our own safety and security procedures, to make sure we’re doing everything we can to look after the wellbeing of our colleagues, stakeholder and partners. In doing so, we can continue to Develop, Support, Promote and Protect the red meat industry through these unprecedented times.  
 
QMS have put the following measures in place from close of play Tuesday 17th March until further notice:
 
1. Working at home 
To prioritise our ongoing support to industry we’re asking all colleagues to work at home if it’s practical to do so.  By doing this, we’re limiting the potential spread of the infection for everyone and maintaining where possible business as usual. 
 
2. Quality Assurance Schemes 
Following the advice from both the Scottish & UK Governments we have decided to develop a planned approach to assessments of our Schemes. 
 
  • All routine, face-to-face assessments to Processors, Auction Marts, Hauliers, Pig and Cattle & Sheep farms will cease from 5.00pm on Wednesday 18th March 2020 for a minimum period of 1 month.
  • All members of the assurance schemes must pay their renewal fees to keep continuity of membership.
  • Quality Meat Scotland, in conjunction with Lloyds Register, has developed a remote assessment model to enable a full assessment to be conducted which is recognised by United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

A remote assessment is a desktop top review of documents and a telephone interview or livestream video. A combination of both elements will allow for a full surveillance assessment to be conducted remotely. Members that are due their annual assessment will be contacted by a Lloyd’s Register assessor to conduct a remote assessment in the coming weeks.

The remote assessment will be a 2-stage process:

  • Submission of documents by member to a portal or direct to assessor for review
  • Livestream assessment of the physical standards using LR Remote or similar platform

The team of assessors are currently being trained on each element of the remote assessing programme and the first remote assessments will take place the week commencing 13th April 2020.

Of course, we appreciate that not every member will have the ability to complete both elements of the assessment, therefore when face-to-face assessments resume these members can be assessed as a priority to ensure continued compliance.

To view  QMS COVID -19 Frequently Asked Questions  - Assurance Schemes cliick here 

To view QMS Coronavirus Policy for QMS Assurance Scheme Assessments click here 

If you have any questions in relation to this protocol, please contact Kathryn Kerr Technical Specialist kkerr@qmscotland.co.uk.

 
 
3. Ongoing Industry collaboration and communication
QMS have been liaising with each of our supply chain contacts and their current strategy is to maintain co-worker’s health and wellbeing plus ensure they maintain a steady supply of product to Retail, Foodservice and Butchers. 
 
QMS will endeavour to maintain being the conduit within the supply chain, however understand that this may not be a key priority at this moment in time.  We will, however, continue our weekly industry communication and, when required, upweight our newsletter frequency with information that is key to our industry. 
 
4. How the QMS teams be working 
It’s virtual business as usual. The QMS Executive Team will meet on Microsoft Teams or via the telephone weekly and all department heads will increase regular 1:1 interaction with team members.  Work will continue as normal and our Executive Team will review our plans and re-prioritise if required.  Telephone lines and emails will be answered in the usual manner.
 
5. QMS Admin/Finance
These functions will continue as normally as possible, with all phonelines directed to mobiles and all payments processed electronically. 

We would urge you to email any invoices or statements to accounts@qmscotland.co.uk.  Any levy returns can be emailed to levy@qmscotland.co.uk.

As our office is officially closed, we would like to urge any customer that pay QMS by cheque to consider paying by bacs to help keep the cycle running smoothly.
 
6. Further information
With things changing not only by the day but by the hour, QMS will endeavour to keep you as update with daily industry news as possible.   To sign up for daily news bulletins, please visit the QMS homepage. If you have any news you would like to share with us, please contact: info@qmscotland.co.uk