Veterinary body sees vet shortage looming

Processing carcases in a slaughterhouse. It is estimated that 95% of vets who care for animal welfare in slaughterhouses are from overseas.
Processing carcases in a slaughterhouse. It is estimated that 95% of vets who care for animal welfare in slaughterhouses are from overseas.

Scottish politicians and farm industry leaders have been urged to support an appeal to the Home Office for vets to be placed on the shortage occupation list to safeguard against a post-Brexit crisis of numbers.

The British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) president, John Fishwick, told the association’s annual dinner at the Scottish Parliament that urgent action was required to prevent acute shortages of vets in vital roles after research
suggested one in five EU vets is now looking for work outside of the UK.

“There are over 2,200 vets working in Scotland, and of these 14% are non-UK EU graduates,” said Mr Fishwick.

“Many of these are playing a crucial role in supporting Scotland’s
agricultural industry as a cornerstone of the economy.

“The impact of the loss of even a small percentage of the veterinary workforce could have serious repercussions, especially in slaughterhouses, where it’s estimated that 95% of vets delivering vital public health roles are from
overseas, mostly the EU.”

“This is coupled with an estimated 325% rise in demand for veterinary
certification if the UK leaves the customs union.”

Mr Fishwick praised Scotland’s animal welfare record, but said the BVA’s campaign to see the practice of non-stun slaughter ended had not yet succeeded.

“Our campaign continues apace to see this practice ended altogether,” he said.

“Over the coming months, we are hoping to link up with farmers’ unions to add momentum to the campaign and work together to find pragmatic solutions to take to Government.”

Mr Fishwick also pointed out that Scotland lags behind England on making CCTV compulsory in all abattoirs after it became mandatory south of the border earlier this month.

He added: “We believe that the introduction of CCTV is an important additional tool for safeguarding animal welfare as a complement to the current monitoring carried out by Official Veterinarians to ensure high standards at every stage of the slaughter process.”

nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk

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