The Government is being urged to elevate veterinarians to critical worker status to help ease an acute shortage.
Almost half of veterinary surgeons registering in the UK qualified from veterinary schools elsewhere in the EU, according to statistics from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).
To highlight the impact of the EU referendum outcome on the veterinary professions, BVA has written to the Secretary of State, Liz Truss MP, and to Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, requesting an early statement to the effect that non-British EU vets and vet nurses who are currently living, studying or working in the UK will continue to be able to do so in future.
BVA is also seeking reassurance for UK veterinary professionals working and studying in other EU member states.
BVA president Sean Wensley said: "It is not yet possible to comment on the reality of 'Brexit' since much will depend on forthcoming negotiations and the decisions that will be taken by the Government regarding, for example, whether or not to maintain existing EU legislation and rules. However, we recognise that these unanswered questions are having a profound impact on many of our members – particularly members who are non-British EU citizens, or have family members who are, and members who work alongside colleagues from other European Member States."
Commenting on the potential impact of Brexit on veterinary surgeons working in the public health sector, VPHA President Lewis Grant says: "Due to the particular focus on public health in many European veterinary degree courses, EU vets make an enormous contribution to both public health and animal health and welfare in the UK - often behind closed doors, monitoring and protecting public health in Approved Premises as well as welfare at slaughter to ensure slaughterhouses meet the standards that are required by law and expected by the public. Without their input and expertise, it would be difficult to ensure that Statutory requirements within the food industry are complied with."
BVA is working with other bodies to discuss the implications of Brexit for the veterinary professions, and the key issues that should be raised in forthcoming discussions and negotiations. BVA members are being encouraged to share their feedback on BVA's community forum under the dedicated 'What do you think 'Brexit' could mean for the veterinary profession?' discussion.