UK vets face triple whammy as Brexit transition looms, says BVA

UK vets face triple whammy as Brexit transition looms, says BVA

The UK veterinary profession is facing a triple whammy of Covid, Brexit and exotic disease, according to a new report from the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

BVA president, James Russell. Image: BVA.

The report assesses the readiness of the UK and raises serious questions around veterinary capacity and infrastructure just weeks from the end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December.

As the UK and EU continue to negotiate a trade deal, the BVA is calling on Government to clarify the number of official veterinarians that will be needed to certify export health certificates (EHC) and to identify where in the country they will be needed. It adds that the detail has not yet been released which is creating difficulties for industry and the veterinary profession in preparing.

The report cites concerns that veterinary surgeons will be taken away from statutory disease surveillance work (such as TB testing) in order to deliver essential export certification work in order to keep goods moving safely. The BVA is therefore also calling on the Government to guarantee that statutory disease work will not be affected with the resulting negative potential impacts on animal health and welfare.

“At a time when we need to be gearing up our capacity, our workforce is at full tilt under the shadow of Covid-19 restrictions and depleted by a reduction in registrations from overseas.”

The BVA has recently raised questions of the UK Government on how veterinary diagnostic and research samples for CITES-listed species can be moved in a timely fashion between UK and EU diagnostic laboratories. To date, no solution has been reached.

It is also concerned that the threat of some exotic diseases is currently high – for example around avian influenza and African Swine Fever – potentially putting an additional strain on veterinary capacity.

BVA president, James Russell, said: “The veterinary profession is absolutely critical to the safe trading of animals and animal products whether the UK reaches a deal with the EU or not. With just weeks to go until the end of the transition period we are deeply concerned that we still don’t have clarity on exactly what will be required.

“We’re calling on the Government to urgently send a strong signal to industry that it needs to recruit official veterinarians now to secure the necessary workforce.

“At a time when we need to be gearing up our capacity, our workforce is at full tilt under the shadow of Covid-19 restrictions and depleted by a reduction in registrations from overseas. This needs to be factored into plans.

“Our biggest concern is that as we look to 2021, we face the threat of a triple whammy of Covid, Brexit and exotic disease. Vets will always prioritise animal health and welfare and public health, but we need Government to give us the information we need to do so.”

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