Your data on MRCVSonline
The nature of the services provided by Vision Media means that we might obtain certain information about you.
Please read our Data Protection and Privacy Policy for details.

In addition, (with your consent) some parts of our website may store a 'cookie' in your browser for the purposes of
functionality or performance monitoring.
Click here to manage your settings.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
Send Cancel

MPs call for action over shortage of vets
According to the committee, there is “no clear picture of the scale or nature of the shortages”.
Letter to minister sets out proposals to deal with national issue.

A committee of MPs has written to environment secretary Steve Barclay to suggest changes the government needs to make to tackle the shortage of veterinary surgeons in the UK.

The proposals in the letter from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee include lowering the minimum salary threshold for veterinary surgeons coming from abroad and incentives for veterinary surgeons to work in regions and roles that are experiencing acute shortages.

The letter states that while efforts are being made to expand the UK’s training capacity, the country has been reliant on overseas graduates to fill roles. However, since Brexit there has been a large drop in the number of veterinary surgeons from the EU registering to work in the UK. While 1134 registered in 2019, the number was just 536 in 2023.

The committee said that new visa rules, which came into force in April, risk making this situation worse. There is now a £48,100 minimum salary threshold for veterinary surgeons coming from abroad to quality for a work visa.

The MPs have urged the government to review the impact of the rules and engage with the sector on suitable salary thresholds.

Among the other proposed measures, the committee also called for reform of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, the creation of debt forgiveness schemes to encourage graduates to work in regions and roles with the most severe shortages, and for the government to support the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in developing a workforce model to better understand the scale of veterinary shortages.

The letter follows an evidence session held in March, in which the committee heard from the UK’s chief veterinary officer and representatives from the Food Stands Agency, the Royal Veterinary College and the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

In response to the committee’s letter, Elizabeth Mullineaux, BVA junior vice-president, said: “The UK has been experiencing workforce shortages for some time, exacerbated by the pandemic, soaring pet ownership and the fallout from Brexit, alongside an increase in vets leaving the profession.

“Overseas graduates have been critical in meeting the shortfall, however recent changes to the skilled worker visa rules requiring veterinary surgeons coming to the UK to meet a salary threshold is likely to exacerbate the situation further.

“The BVA is pressing the UK government to reconsider the rules in relation to vets, who not only play a critical role in the welfare of the nation’s pets, but are essential to disease control, UK food security and international trade.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We value the work of vets and other professionals who work with animals, and we are considering the best way to utilise them to ease the burden on veterinary capacity both now and in the future.

“As part of our efforts, we established a Veterinary Education and Future Capacity Working Group, working with the public and private sector to help reduce workforce shortages and promote a sustainable education system capable of delivering across all sectors of the veterinary profession.”

The full letter from the committee can be read here.

Image © Shutterstock

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.