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Government urged to help ‘future-proof’ veterinary workforce
From L-R: BVA president, Daniella Dos Santos, Lord Gardiner and CVO Christine Middlemiss.

BVA warns of post-Brexit ‘surge in demand’ for vets

As the UK leaves the European Union, BVA president Daniella Dos Santos has called on the government to work with the veterinary profession to maintain workforce capacity and uphold animal welfare standards.

The call comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined new negotiating priorities that would mean animals and animal products exported from the UK into the EU single market will need veterinary certification and checks, whether or not the UK leaves with a deal.

Some members of the profession have also raised concerns about how the future immigration scheme will protect veterinary surgeons working in abattoirs, of which around 95 per cent come from outside the UK.

Speaking at BVA’s Annual London Dinner in Westminster (4 Feb), Ms Dos Santos said: “Only yesterday, the Prime Minister confirmed a set of negotiating priorities that would mean animals and animal products exported from the UK into the EU single market (and indeed from Great Britain into Northern Ireland) will need veterinary certification documents and checks whether we end up with a deal or a No Deal.  

“This could spark a surge in demand on our members’ capacity, and really underlines the need for a multi-pronged and multi-stakeholder approach to ensure we have a flexible and future-proofed veterinary workforce for the years to come.”

More than 80 guests attended the dinner, including England’s chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss, rural affairs and biosecurity minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble, and key representatives from animal health and welfare organisations. 

Later in the speech, Ms Dos Santos welcomed efforts to increase veterinary school places and widen access to help boost levels of vets studying in the UK. However, she cautioned that these need to be matched with increased per capita funding:

“It’s estimated that the cost of equipping students with the skills they need to qualify is £20,000 per student, per year of study. The reality is that tuition fees and government funding don’t come close to matching these costs. And this gap will widen still further if funding levels stay static but need to be spread across higher numbers of students.

“If the government is truly committed to boosting workforce resilience and ensuring that we have the capacity we need in crucial areas after Brexit, I would urge ministers to look at how to fund our future vets, to give students from all backgrounds the best shot at a successful pathway to graduation.”

Ms Dos Santos also pressed for reassurance from the government that food produced to lower animal health and welfare standards will not be imported as part of any future trade deals.

“I can state very clearly that we as vets stand with you in pushing for assurances that imports produced to lower animal health and welfare standards will not be accepted as part of future trade deals,” she said.

“The media is obsessed with chlorine-washed chicken and it certainly makes a good headline. But we mustn’t allow it to distract from the grim realities about the animal welfare compromises that could be imported to the UK. I hope that tonight we can all agree that our reputation relies on not allowing animal health and welfare to be compromised at any cost.”

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

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News Shorts
BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.