Vets warn no-deal Brexit could leave parts of the workforce at breaking point

24 September 2018

Pet transport requirements would change under a no-deal Brexit

BVA has warned that a
no-deal Brexit could add up to a logistical nightmare for areas of the
workforce and lead to serious shortfalls in capacity for vets certifying animals
and animal products entering and exiting the UK.

New
technical notices offer guidance to businesses and citizens in
the event of a no-deal Brexit across areas including pet travel and the import
and export of animals and animal products coming to and from the UK.

Pets
would continue to be able to travel from the UK to the EU, but the level of
documentation and health checks would rise. If the UK has “unlisted” third
country status following withdrawal from the EU, dogs, cats and ferrets would
need to prove they have been effectively vaccinated against rabies by undergoing
a rabies antibody
titration test at least thirty days after vaccination and no fewer than three
months before their travel date. Pets would
need to travel with an animal health certificate issued by an Official
Veterinarian, which would then be valid for ten days from the date of
issue until entry into EU member states.

Exports
of animals and animal products will be carried out subject to the EU listing
the UK as an accepted third country. Even when access to the Single Market is
achieved, there have been warnings previously that a no-deal Brexit could lead
to a 325 per cent increase in the volume of products requiring veterinary
certification as they leave and enter the UK.

The
notices also advise that a new domestic version of TRACES (Trade Control and
Expert System) – the web-based veterinarian
certification tool used by the European Union
for controlling the import and export of live animals and animal products within and without
its borders -- will be introduced at the beginning of 2019, with the aim of it
being fully embedded by the EU withdrawal date in March.

BVA has warned that Brexit could exacerbate existing shortages
and recruitment problems in the workforce and is calling for vets to be
reinstated on the Shortage Occupation List to safeguard against shortfalls in
capacity. Nearly half of vets
registering to work in the UK every year come from the EU, and 95 per cent of
Official Veterinarians working in abattoirs come from overseas, mainly the
EU.

Simon
Doherty, BVA President, said: “Today's technical notices really underline how a
no-deal Brexit could put a strain on large and crucial sections of the
veterinary workforce.

“The
risk of shortages of OVs working in abattoirs or carrying out certification is well
documented, but the impacts could also be keenly felt in the small animal
sector if new pet transport requirements lead to a surge in demand for vets to
carry out rabies vaccination and testing prior to travel. It's highly likely that owners will not only
be affected by veterinary capacity shortfalls, but also face long waits and
additional costs for giving an animal the all clear to leave the UK.

“We
are also concerned that BVA, the representative organisation for vets, has not
been approached yet to get involved in the testing and training process for the
new version of TRACES. As vets will be
the primary users of the new system going forward, it is important to involve us
early on to address any teething problems and ensure a smooth transition ahead
of March.

“These
technical notices are an important step in putting some of the issues that a
no-deal Brexit could present out in the open and helping businesses to prepare
accordingly. Going forward, it is critical
that the government fully engages with the veterinary profession on matters
which may have a bearing on their vital work supporting animal welfare, public
health and standards in the supply chain.”

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