Urgent action is needed to address the potential shortfall in non-UK vets when Britain leaves the EU, with the industry now at ‘crisis point’.
British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Simon Doherty urged the Government to heed its plea and guarantee working rights for non-UK EU vets and for the veterinary profession to be placed on the Shortage Occupation List by the Home Office.
Vets were removed from the list in 2011.
Speaking at the BVA’s annual dinner in London this week, Mr Doherty said: “Be in no doubt, weare at crisis point now and need to avoid a cliff edge.”
Addressing the audience, which included Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes and Defra Minister David Rutley, he added: “Please support and share our calls for vets to be reinstated on the Shortage Occupation List.
“This would give a critical vote of confidence in the veterinary workforce and the multiple benefits it realises, and help to safeguard against a post-Brexit crisis in capacity.”
His speech came amid mounting concerns that sections of the workforce may be facing a perfect storm of shortfalls in capacity coupled with a surge in demand for some veterinary services.
These impacts would be particularly severe in the event of a no deal scenario, which could bring increased requirements for certification of animals and animal products leaving and entering the UK.
Mr Rutley said his department understood the seriousness of the situation and had made representations to the Home Office.
A decision on the Shortage Occupation List is expected in the next few months.
Mr Doherty also reiterated the association’s calls, backed by the RSPCA, for a ban on non-stun slaughter for religious purposes.
He highlighted the case of Flanders in Belgium, which recently joined several other European countries in making this decision, ‘demonstrating that a full ban on non-stun slaughter is possible within EU law’.
The latest Food Standards Agency figures showed more than 120 million animals in England were slaughtered without pre-stunning between October 2017 to September 2018.