The UK’s exit from the EU will exacerbate recruitment
problems for the veterinary profession, making the
placement of vets on the Shortage Occupation List an
immediate priority, according to the BVA and RCVS in their
joint response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s Call
for Evidence on the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU.
Recruitment and retention of vets has been a growing
concern in the UK. The joint submission points to evidence
from recent surveys indicating a current workforce
shortage of 11% in small animal practice and an overall
deterioration in the ability of practices to hire suitably
qualified staff. There have been previous calls for the
profession to be placed on the Shortage Occupation List,
which would reduce restrictions on recruiting veterinary
surgeons from abroad, and this will become a necessity post-Brexit. Following the exit from the EU, existing
shortages will likely worsen, while changes in trade could
increase the demand for veterinary skills, producing a
shortfall in the UK’s capacity to ensure animal welfare, food
safety and public health.
Currently, about half of vets registering each year in the
UK are graduates from the EU. If there are no appropriate
immigration measures in place when the UK leaves the EU,
this EU contribution could decline, leaving a large gap in
the veterinary workforce. Research among BVA members
has indicated that since the EU referendum, about one-fifth
are reporting that recruitment has already become harder.
A study commissioned by the RCVS has shown that nearly
a third of vets and vet nurses whose nationality is non-UK
European are considering a move back home.