18 May 2018
BVA launched its ‘Brexit & the Veterinary Profession' Report in May 2017
A year after the launch of its ‘Brexit and the Veterinary Profession' report, BVA has taken stock of its progress and produced a new infographic to outline the major milestones that have been achieved.
Brexit and the Veterinary Profession' report was the result of several months of working group discussions and consultations with interested organisations. It sets out the key issues arising from Brexit for vets and those who depend on the profession, alongside recommendations that continue to form the basis of
BVA engagement with stakeholders throughout the negotiating period.
The infographic ‘
A strong voice for vets in Brexit (PDF 2.26 MB)' portrays in an interlocking jigsaw graphic the five key areas where BVA has been working on Brexit-related topics. With less than a year to go before Brexit day, BVA is now consolidating the progress it has made
on its recommendations and making further inroads into those which continue to need our attention.
More than livestock in trade
In October last year
BVA provided evidence to the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into the impact of Brexit on trade in food. Last year the then Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens estimated that the need for veterinary certification could increase by 325% if the UK was treated as a third country
when it leaves the EU. This would bring about a need for many more Official Veterinarians, which is a specialist role frequently held by non-UK EU vets. BVA has consistently been driving home this important message and the need for mitigative actions to ensure there is not a huge gap in capacity for veterinary
Brexit could also have major implications for veterinary medicines. It is crucial that the UK government guarantees the veterinary profession continued access to all medicines licensed through the EU regulatory systems. BVA has been raising awareness
of this and setting out recommendations in all its responses to trade papers, and has highlighted the need for continued high-level discussions on the issue.
Veterinary profession as guardians of
BVA continues to raise awareness around the vital role the veterinary profession plays in upholding animal welfare and to ensure that vets' voices are heard in new legislation introduced in this area.
rejection of animal sentience from the Brexit Bill, BVA campaigned hard for animal sentience to be enshrined in UK law. BVA led on the
publication of a letter in the Daily Telegraph that called for the government to explicitly enshrine article 13 of the Lisbon treaty in UK legislation post-Brexit and it was signed by 1200 vets, vet nurses and vet students. A draft Bill was published in response, which states that the government “must
have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing government policy”. The draft Bill goes further than Article 13 as it applies to all areas of government policy, rather than specified areas.
BVA continues to lobby to ensure that animal sentience legislation is enshrined in law as the draft Bill progresses.
BVA has also been calling for animal health and welfare to be recognised as public goods. It was therefore hailed as a victory when
Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove stated that animal welfare is a public good that could be funded under a future agricultural policy after the UK leaves the EU. BVA continue to push for this to be developed further and have recommended the
use of animal welfare stewardship programmes as a means to do this.
Maintaining and improving standards in animal
and public health
BVA has been lobbying government about the importance of maintaining standards in animal and public health and, where possible, taking the opportunity to improve them post-Brexit.
The government has now made a commitment to at least maintain animal health and welfare standards post Brexit. In recent months and since the work on animal sentience, Defra has announced a raft of measures and inquiries to help safeguard animal health and welfare, such as
the introduction of mandatory CCTV into all UK slaughterhouses,
the launch of a consultation into live export, and a
call for evidence into third party puppy sales. A number of these announcements contain comment from BVA.
BVA has been working hard to raise awareness of the UK's reliance on non-UK EU vets in areas of public health, such as meat hygiene. Figures indicate around 90% of Official Veterinarians are from non-UK EU countries and without these OVs there may be a
huge gap in this sector.
The maintenance of high standards of biosecurity and surveillance when we leave the EU is an important issue and BVA recently gave oral
evidence to the House of Lords Environment & Energy Committeeon this subject.
Supporting a post-Brexit agricultural
Brexit will see the end of the EU Common Agricultural Policy in the United Kingdom and the government will need to decide on how to replace it. BVA has set out
six principles of post CAP agriculture policy to highlight the role of vets in developing and sustaining a strong, competitive and innovative food industry that is trusted by customers at home and abroad.
BVA responded to the government consultation paper ‘Health & Harmony: the future for food, farming and environment', urging government to uphold its promises on animal health and welfare and outlining recommendations to introduce an animal welfare stewardship programme.
BVA has also recognised the specific challenges faced in Northern Ireland and helped secure an inquiry on the impact of Brexit on agriculture in Northern Ireland, to which we have submitted written evidence. Ongoing work is needed in this area as it becomes
clearer how cross-border issues will be negotiated post-Brexit.
Sustaining a strong veterinary workforce
Success across all the above areas hinges on ensuring that we have a strong veterinary workforce.
BVA has issued an urgent call for
vets to be placed on the Shortage Occupation List as a means to address recruitment and retention challenges for the profession. We have provided written and oral evidence to the
Efra committee inquiry into Brexit and labour constraints and submitted evidence to the
Migration Advisory Committee on the impact of Brexit, calling for non-UK EU vets to be allowed to remain and work in the UK.
Through Vet Futures, BVA continues to research workforce issues to understand the drivers of recruitment and retention problems and to identify possible solutions. We are also part of the
recently formed Veterinary Capability and Capacity Project together with Defra, RCVS and other partners.
As these projects provide greater insight into the challenges faced, we will expand, develop and implement our recommendations to ensure we have a robust and effective workforce going forward into Brexit.