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Statement on Defra Brexit strategy

13 September 2018

The RCVS has published a statement (Thursday 13 September 2018) regarding the National Audit Office (NAO) report on the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs’ progress in implementing its EU exit strategy.

Commenting on the NAO report, Amanda Boag, RCVS President, said:

“Since the UK’s vote to leave the European Union in June 2016 the RCVS, along with other organisations including the BVA, has been highlighting the profession’s collective concerns around the potential impact of Brexit on areas relevant to animal health and welfare and public health, particularly the impact on the veterinary workforce.

“Our data and ongoing research into the potential impact reveals that currently around 50% of veterinary surgeons who join our Register every year are trained in other EU countries. Furthermore, a disproportionate number of vets working in the public health sector (estimates are around 90%) are from the non-UK EU. Their vital responsibilities include certification of animals and animal products for safe export and import and monitoring the transmission of disease across borders.

“The importance of the profession for both public and animal health and welfare, and for underpinning trade, cannot be underestimated and we have taken every opportunity over the last two years to express our concerns to Defra on this matter including through the Veterinary Capability and Capacity Project (VCCP). This project was launched in October 2017 and aims to assess the challenges posed by Brexit and to develop a flexible and skilled workforce which meets the UK’s needs for both the short and long-term future. Last year the College, in partnership with the BVA, also made a submission to the Home Office's Migration Advisory Committee recommending that veterinary surgeons were added to the Shortage Occupation List which would reduce immigration barriers to overseas veterinary surgeons and thus mitigate any potential post-Brexit workforce shortages.

“We are glad to see the National Audit Office report recognises that a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario would be likely to reduce the supply of EU veterinary surgeons to the UK and cause uncertainty regarding the status of those EU veterinary surgeons who are currently living and working in the UK and that this would have a particularly serious impact on necessary veterinary work in public health and certification.

“We continue to engage with Defra and, like the BVA, we want to emphasise the essential need for Government to consult with the profession to ensure their plans meet requirements, including maintenance of the high veterinary standards for which the UK is known. We also want to highlight the importance and value of the veterinary profession in other areas of society including caring for pets, horses and farm animals as well as research, education and industry, and emphasise the impact of workforce shortages on all sectors.”


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