The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has released a statement underlining how a no-deal Brexit situation could impact veterinary services in the UK, as 50 per cent of veterinary surgeons joining their register are seen to be trained in other EU countries.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) is said to be one of the most affected of the government departments since the decision to exit the EU in March 2019. The portfolio of Defra is varied, but covers agriculture, fisheries, and the environment.

Amanda Boag, RCVS President, commented on the NAO report, explaining, “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 per cent 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 per cent) 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.

This would have a particularly serious impact on necessary veterinary work in public health and certification

“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.”

Update 25/09/18

The RSPCA has expressed concerns over the difficulties members of the public will encounter while travelling with pets in a no-deal scenario.

RSPCA Head of Public Affairs David Bowles said, “Travelling with your pet will become more difficult, with dogs and cats being delayed or even turned back at borders in a no-deal scenario.

“New government papers published today set out a possible future which could include changing the present passport forms, registering with the vet four months before travel and reporting to a designated arrival point.  The new process and restrictions will depend how fast and on what level the UK is finally listed but it is certain that with no deal, traveling with your dog or cat will radically change and may prevent some people from travelling .

“Retaining and improving animal welfare standards is our ideal Brexit scenario – but a no deal result certainly won’t be ideal for travelling pet-owners.”

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