MPs recognise critical vet shortages as end of transition looms

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed a new report from MPs that highlights serious concerns about veterinary capacity in light of Brexit.

The House of Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs select committee (EfraCom) inquiry into Labour in the Food Supply Chain outlines the essential role of veterinary surgeons throughout the food chain and notes the increased requirements for veterinary certification at the end of the Brexit transition period.

In the report the committee highlights the role of overseas-trained vets working as Official Veterinarians in the UK. It summarises: “The example of the veterinarian sector highlights the important role that overseas-trained employees undertake in the food supply chain, in this case working in abattoirs that are unattractive to UK-trained vets. In addition, these Official Veterinarians face an increase in their workload due to increased checks on exports as a result of Brexit. These factors, combined with the fact it takes several years to train vets, risk creating a situation where there is insufficient veterinary labour, without which animal products cannot be cleared for export.”

BVA gave evidence to the committee on 15 September and in November BVA released a report warning of the “triple whammy” facing the veterinary sector due to the end of transition, the impact of Covid, and the need to deal with exotic disease outbreaks such as avian influenza. 

Commenting on the EfraCom report, BVA President James Russell said:

“BVA has been raising concerns about the impact of Brexit on veterinary capacity since the referendum. As we hurtle towards the end of the transition, we are very worried about the impact on our members who are already working hard during a difficult period.

“We welcome the committee’s understanding of the critical role vets have in the food supply chain and facilitating international trade in a way that protects animal health and welfare and public health.

“It has long been known that the UK veterinary profession relies heavily on EU-trained vets, particularly in public health roles, and it is vital that immigration policies reflect that fact.”

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