Industry NewsVeterinary

Could Brexit threaten the status of vets and vet nurses?

‘Brexit’ could impact upon the status of vets and vet nurses working within the UK. Almost half of veterinary surgeons registering in the UK qualified from veterinary schools elsewhere in the EU, say statistics provided by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).

Following the EU referendum on June 23 2016, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has written to the Secretary of State, Liz Truss MP, and to Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The BVA requests an early statement to the effect that non-British EU vets and vet nurses who are currently living, studying or working in the UK will continue to be able to do so in future. BVA is also seeking reassurance for UK veterinary professionals working and studying in other EU member states.

What will happen?

BVA President Sean Wensley said: “It is not yet possible to comment on the reality of ‘Brexit’ since much will depend on forthcoming negotiations and the decisions that will be taken by the Government regarding, for example, whether or not to maintain existing EU legislation and rules.

“However, we recognise that these unanswered questions are having a profound impact on many of our members – particularly members who are non-British EU citizens, or have family members who are, and members who work alongside colleagues from other European Member States.”

In the letters, Mr Wensley stated: “I am sure there are many significant issues that your Department needs to consider [and] given the profound personal impact that the uncertainty caused by the referendum outcome is having on some of our members, we wanted to contact you at the earliest opportunity.

“In the forthcoming negotiations about the future relationship between the UK and the EU, we strongly urge you to make the case for all EU citizens and EU-qualified veterinary surgeons and nurses to have ongoing rights to live, work and study in the UK.”

In the letter to the Northern Ireland (NI) Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Michelle McIlveen MLA, the BVA President and BVA NI Branch President Seamus O’Kane highlighted NI’s land border with EU member state the Republic of Ireland and called for the maintenance of the Common Travel Area to facilitate movement in an all-island context for both work and study purposes.

BVA is working with the RCVS and other bodies to discuss the implications of Brexit for the veterinary professions, and the key issues that should be raised in forthcoming discussions and negotiations. BVA members are being encouraged to share their feedback on BVA’s community forum under the dedicated ‘What do you think ‘Brexit’ could mean for the veterinary profession?’ discussion.

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