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RCVS and BVA call for vet surgeons to be restored to Shortage Occupation List

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and British Veterinary Association (BVA) have called for veterinary surgeons to be restored to the Shortage Occupation List as part of the UK’s preparations for leaving the EU.

The organisations made the joint submission to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) as part of the its review into the Shortage Occupation List which began in autumn 2018 and will report back in spring 2019. BVA and RCVS had previously made calls for the profession to be added to the list in 2017 when the MAC held a call for evidence on the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU on various professions.

The latest joint submission is a development on this previous submission, focused on the need for the post-Brexit immigration system to recognise the issues affecting the veterinary workforce, which is already under-capacity.

The submission detailed how the demand for veterinary services does not currently match supply and how the UK is reliant on overseas registrants, particularly from the rest of the EU, who currently make up around 50 percent of new registrants a year. The RCVS and BVA said this reliance on overseas vets needed to be recognised thus reducing the immigration requirements needed and streamlining the application process for employers.

As well as calling for a future immigration system to prioritise the veterinary profession, the bodies also recommended veterinary employers be exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge and recommended no minimum earning cap for veterinary surgeons applying for work visas, on the basis they were “skilled professionals who may choose to work in the UK for reasons other than remuneration”.

Amanda Boag, RCVS president, said: “We wanted to use this submission as an opportunity to reiterate the circumstances currently facing the profession, particularly in light of the uncertainties around the UK’s exit from the EU and the impact this could have on the supply of veterinary workforce from the rest of the EU, which is crucially important in a number of areas. We need, therefore, for veterinary surgeons to be immediately added back to the list so that we can ensure that this flow of workforce continues and that animal health and welfare is protected.

Simon Doherty, BVA president, added: “It is in MAC’s gift to reinstate vets on the Shortage Occupation List and this evidence makes a strong case for it to happen as quickly as possible. Vets deliver multiple benefits to animal health and welfare, public health and food safety, and they have a crucial role to play in future trade deals and keeping standards and confidence in UK exports high. The profession is also indebted to a high proportion of skilled EU vets who have chosen to make the UK their home and place of work.”

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