Vets voice growing concerns over Brexit impact on workforce and welfare

According to new figures from the British Veterinary Association (BVA), vets are becoming increasingly concerned about Brexit.

As many as 64% of vets now see Brexit as more of a threat than an opportunity for the UK veterinary profession, compared to just half in autumn 2016, according to findings from the BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey panel.

On animal health and welfare, over half of vets consider Brexit as more of a threat than an opportunity, compared to just 43% in 2016.

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Just as in the general population, younger vets express a more pessimistic outlook on the likely impact of Brexit than older vets, but even amongst the older age groups, the majority now perceive Brexit as more of a threat than opportunity (54% of vets aged 55+, up from 40% in 2016).

Vets working in academia and industry expressed the most concern, with 69% of vets in academia and 58% of vets in industry seeing Brexit as more of a threat to their own area of work than an opportunity. At the other end of the spectrum, 46% of vets in government see Brexit as more of a threat, with 17% seeing more of an opportunity.

According to the research, vets are particularly worried about the impact of Brexit on veterinary recruitment with 53% of respondents saying that the recruitment of veterinary surgeons had become harder since the EU referendum. This has risen dramatically since autumn 2016 when just 18% said the EU referendum had made recruitment of vets harder.

More than eight in ten respondents agreed that for the purposes of post-Brexit immigration the veterinary profession should be considered a shortage occupation.

BVA president Simon Doherty said: “As the UK Government ramps up its planning for a no-deal scenario, it’s clear that the veterinary profession is becoming increasingly concerned about the potential impact of Brexit.

“Top of vets’ list of concerns is significant veterinary workforce shortages across critical areas of animal welfare and public health. Veterinary concerns around animal welfare have also increased as the Government continues to stall on introducing new legislation to enshrine animal sentience in UK law before March.

“From pet passports and food safety, to disease surveillance and trade certification, there is no area of veterinary work that is not touched by Brexit. So, we can fully understand why our members are worried about the future. BVA will continue to raise these important veterinary issues with policymakers to ensure the profession is considered as Brexit discussions continue.”

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