“Our ideal outcome is that EU veterinary surgeons currently living and working in the UK are allowed to stay indefinitely” – RCVS senior vice-president Chris Tufnell.
A joint BVA/RCVS response to the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee’s call for evidence on the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU has urged making the placement of vets on the Shortage Occupation List an immediate priority.
About half of vets registering each year in the UK are graduates from the EU.
If no appropriate immigration measures are in place when the UK leaves the EU, this contribution could decline, leaving a large gap in the veterinary workforce.
Research among BVA members has indicated, since the EU referendum, about one-fifth are reporting recruitment has already become harder. A study commissioned by the RCVS has shown nearly a third of vets and VNs whose nationality is non-UK European are considering a move back home.
BVA senior vice-president Gudrun Ravetz said: “Our members have been reporting problems with recruitment and retention of vets for several years, and this situation will only worsen under Brexit, unless appropriate measures are in place.
“Vets are vital to our society. Across the UK vets are needed to certify imports and exports, conduct cutting-edge research, prevent disease outbreaks, ensure food safety in abattoirs and achieve our world leading standards in animal welfare.
“We are setting out a very strong case to add the profession to the Shortage Occupation List to help us manage the immediate shortfall in critical veterinary roles, while the UK negotiates a longer term immigration policy that must meet the UK’s veterinary workforce needs post-Brexit, without creating disproportionate administrative burdens for veterinary businesses.”
Vital veterinary work
Chris Tufnell, RCVS senior vice-president and chairman of the college’s Brexit Taskforce, said: “The first of our published Brexit Principles is ‘vital veterinary work continues to get done’.
“To ensure this is met we want the Government to recognise there are significant current and potential shortages in the profession that can only be mitigated by putting it on the Shortage Occupation List, so that animal health and welfare and public health is safeguarded.
“Our ideal outcome is EU veterinary surgeons currently living and working in the UK are allowed to stay indefinitely and, in terms of any post-Brexit immigration system, graduates of European schools accredited by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education are allowed to work here with the minimum of restrictions.”