BVA President Gudrun Ravetz said a focus on campaigning for CCTV in abattoirs and maintaining a strong veterinary workforce post-Brexit will continue to be priorities, in a speech at BVA’s annual Welsh Dinner at Cardiff City Hall on 13 June.
Addressing the dinner’s 70 guests, including guest speaker Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths AM, Assembly Members, key representatives from animal health and welfare organisations, and senior colleagues from across the veterinary profession, the BVA President acknowledged the “many unknown unknowns in the current political landscape.
“The outcome of the EU referendum last June had a profound impact on many of our veterinary colleagues.
“In Wales, one-fifth of the current veterinary workforce is made up of EU-graduated vets. This is why our first call was for the Government to guarantee the working rights for non-British EU vets and vet nurses currently working and studying in the UK, at the existing level, and with no time limit. And we were pleased to see this in many of the parties’ manifestos in the run up to last week’s General election.”
The BVA President highlighted commitments that Wales has already made in order to develop a strong veterinary workforce: “A strong veterinary workforce is vital to maintaining high animal welfare and food safety standards … And we look forward to the development of a new hub of veterinary expertise and excellence in Aberystwyth, which is bringing together the right resources to deliver training opportunities to Wales’s vets of tomorrow.”
Throughout her speech, Ravetz emphasised the diverse experience and expertise within the veterinary profession: from “the work of individual vets in responsibly treating farm animals and pets in communities across the UK”; to “vets’ frontline presence” in disease surveillance; and the vital role veterinary colleagues fulfil “enabling trade in animals and animal products … to retain customer confidence at a time when it’s most needed”.
She praised the Welsh Government for maximising the skills and specialisms of the veterinary resource at national level: “In a profession where women now make up 60% of the workforce … we are pleased to see the appointment of more women and veterinary surgeons to the Animal Health and Framework Group, ensuring a better gender and expertise balance to meet the needs of animals in Wales.”
On another BVA priority issue, the BVA President urged the Cabinet Secretary to make a commitment on mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses to help ensure standards of welfare at slaughter match the high animal health and welfare standards being seen across other areas of Welsh policy: “We were disappointed that the Safeguarding Animal Welfare at Slaughter Task and Finish Group’s report concluded that there was not a sufficient basis for making CCTV in Welsh abattoirs mandatory.
“While we know that CCTV is not the answer to all welfare concerns, it encourages the highest standards of animal welfare and good stockmanship – and is an essential tool in fostering a culture of compassion within abattoirs. We would urge the Cabinet Secretary to look at this issue again, and not miss the opportunity to set an example for the rest of the UK to follow.”