Speaking at the organisation’s annual Dinner 70, Fishwick told attendees that the volume of exports requiring veterinary certification could increase by as much as 325%, highlighting that more vets would be needed to carry out the task.
It is estimated 95% of Official Veterinarians (OVs) working in abattoirs are from overseas, with the large majority coming from the EU. He then referred to recent research by the RCVS, which showed that non-UK vets were considering moving out of the country.
Fishwick said: “To prevent an acute crisis in veterinary capacity, BVA is urging the Home Office to add veterinary surgeons to the Shortage Occupation List.”
He added: “Depending on the outcome of Brexit negotiations … new veterinary certifications will need to be developed and supervised to ensure the continuation of smooth trade, which will require an increase in the number of specially trained Official Veterinarians to perform this role.
“It is veterinary input and expertise that underpins the UK’s high standards of animal health, animal welfare and public health. We are rightly proud of these high standards … Yet these standards can only be maintained with a robust, sustainable veterinary workforce in place.”
The BVA President then spoke about the association’s animal welfare and animal sentience campaign, which calls on the government to uphold the duty on the state to have due regard for animal welfare, as stated in Article 13 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.
He concluded his speech with the BVA’s other priorities for this year, including working towards an end to non-stun slaughter; rolling out mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses across the UK; strengthening veterinary surveillance; and reducing antibiotic resistance.