Assembly members briefed on the challenges and opportunities Brexit presents for the Welsh veterinary workforce

25 April 2018

BVA's Welsh Branch President Sarah Carr highlighted the vital role that vets and veterinary nurses play in ensuring high standards of animal health and welfare and food safety in Wales

Assembly
Members gathered this evening (Tuesday 24 April) to hear about the far-ranging
impacts that the UK's withdrawal from the European Union could have on the
Welsh veterinary workforce.

Attendees
at the event at the Welsh Assembly's Tŷ Hywel building heard from
representatives from the British Veterinary Association, who highlighted the
vital role that vets and veterinary nurses play in ensuring high standards of
animal health and welfare and food safety in Wales. The briefing event was
hosted by Assembly Member and BVA Honorary Associate, Llyr Gruffydd.

Vets
play a crucial role in supporting the agricultural industry in Wales, which is
the cornerstone of the Welsh economy. Brexit will also have specific
impacts on Wales as it is one of the only areas of the UK – alongside Cornwall
– to receive ongoing EU funding to support deprived communities.

BVA
is calling for pledges to guarantee working rights for non-UK EU vets and vet
nurses to be realised in law as quickly as possible, to offer the reassurances
needed now by affected colleagues and their families. Recent research
from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) shows that nearly half (44
per cent) of EU vets living, studying and working in the UK are ‘fearful' for
their future post-Brexit, and one in five is actively looking for work in other
countries.

To
prevent a crisis in veterinary capacity after the UK's withdrawal from the EU,
BVA is urging the Home Office to add vets to the shortage occupation
list. A fall in EU vet numbers would pose a particular risk for
sustaining food safety and animal welfare standards in abattoirs, where an
estimated 95 per cent of Official Veterinarians are from overseas, mostly the
EU.

Addressing
attendees at the event, BVA's Welsh Branch President Sarah Carr also emphasised
the need for a single standard for animal products destined for both domestic
and export markets post-Brexit.

She
said: “A single standard that champions animal welfare through veterinary
controls and certifications will avoid the opportunity for fraud that is
associated with multiple parallel standards. Vets' pivotal role means we
can provide public health guarantees for consumer confidence both at home and
abroad, ensuring the continued demand for Welsh lamb, as well as Wales' wider
thriving export market.”

Assembly
Member Llyr Gruffydd, who hosted the briefing event, said: “This is an important opportunity for politicians to understand
the challenges facing the sector as well as getting a deeper appreciation of
the impacts of Brexit.

“Everyone appreciates the important
role vets play in terms of animal health but we also need to understand the
important economic and social role they have in communities the length and
breadth of Wales. They are a vital ingredient in making our rural communities
work and we have to consider that when looking at the threats posed by an
extreme Brexit.”

As
part of the network of devolved and specialist divisions, BVA Branches
contribute local knowledge and expertise to BVA's wider lobbying and representational
activities.

Related links

Related BVA policy

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