Government urged to protect status of vets and VNs in Brexit negotiations

Posted On: 
6th July 2016

The Government is being urged to protect the status of EU veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses living and working in the UK.

Credit: 
PA

Following the EU referendum vote, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has written to Environment Secretary Liz Truss as well as Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in a bid to ensure non-British EU vets and vet nurses are allowed to continue living, studying or working in Britain.

The BVA is also seeking reassurance for UK veterinary professionals working and studying in other EU member states.

In recent years almost half of veterinary surgeons registering in the UK have qualified from veterinary schools elsewhere in the EU, according to statistics from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Sean Wensley, BVA President, 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.”

In the letter, Mr Wensley wrote: “I am sure there are many significant issues that your Department needs to consider [and] given the profound personal impact that the uncertainty caused by the referendum outcome is having on some of our members, we wanted to contact you at the earliest opportunity.

“In the forthcoming negotiations about the future relationship between the UK and the EU, we strongly urge you to make the case for all EU citizens and EU-qualified veterinary surgeons and nurses to have ongoing rights to live, work and study in the UK.”

Veterinary Public Health Association President Lewis Grant said: “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.”

In this context it is important to note that over 90% of meat hygiene service vets are non-British EU citizens