RCVS responds to disquiet over Michael Gove's comments

21 June 2018

We recognise that considerable disquiet has arisen following comments made by Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove [Q257 onwards], concerning the level of training of EU citizens working in the meat industry.

We understand from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that the Minister was not criticising the training of European veterinary surgeons, but rather was referring to the difference in the level of training between veterinarians and non-veterinary individuals carrying out other roles in the inspection and certification process, now and in the future.

Defra has made clear that “the Secretary of State wasn’t saying, and doesn’t believe, that vets from the EU are less qualified than those from the UK.”

Defra has made clear that “the Secretary of State wasn’t saying, and doesn’t believe, that vets from the EU are less qualified than those from the UK.”

The Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss, reiterated that she is “hugely grateful to all vets and other professionals who contribute to animal health and welfare and food safety in the UK. I recognise that vets of EU origin have a very significant role in this workforce.”

We have made it very clear that we greatly value EU-qualified veterinary surgeons working in all sectors of the economy, from private practice to the meat industry, and that in certain sectors we remain very reliant on vets who qualified overseas, especially those from  the rest of the EU.

We are currently repeating a survey of all non-UK EU-qualified veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, first carried out last year, to gain a greater understanding of the views and expectations of EU-qualified vets now that certain elements of the UK’s withdrawal process from the European Union, as well as the timing, have become clearer.

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