Vets are to be reinstated on the Shortage Occupation List, in a move described by the British Vet Association (BVA) as a “huge win for animal welfare and a resounding vote of confidence in the veterinary community”.
In today’s report, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended to the Home Office that vets should be restored to the list after being removed in 2011, to help address concerns about capacity meeting future demand and make it easier to recruit into the profession.
The committee said it was making its recommendation as it was clear from the evidence submitted that the veterinary profession is facing significant recruitment difficulties.
Jason Aldiss, managing director of Leeds-based veterinary services company Eville & Jones, said that it is incumbent upon whoever replaces Theresa May as Prime Minister to accept the proposal from MAC.
Dr Aldiss said: “It has been a long road to reach this point but I am pleased that the MAC has finally seen sense.It adds that working in UK slaughterhouses is not generally considered attractive to British veterinarians. That is why it is absolutely essential to have unfettered access to foreign vets.”
BVA, which represents over 18,000 veterinary professionals in the UK, had been running a campaign for vets to be restored to the list to help safeguard against a future crisis in workforce capacity.
Around 95% of the vets carrying out critical public health work and animal welfare monitoring in abattoirs hail from overseas, predominantly the EU. BVA has also raised concerns that demand for veterinary certification and health testing services could spiral in the event of a no deal Brexit, placing significant pressures on the workforce.
BVA president Simon Doherty said: “MAC’s recommendation today is a huge win for animal welfare and a resounding vote of confidence in the veterinary community and the multiple benefits it realises across the UK. We are absolutely delighted that the committee has heeded our calls and recognised the need to reinstate vets on the list to keep workforce supply and resilience high in the unpredictable times ahead.”