VSGD logo

RCVS supports new veterinary career diversity event

Representatives and staff from the RCVS attended the inaugural Vets: Stay, Go, Diversity (VSGD) Live! event in April to showcase its work on leadership, innovation and mental health.

The VSGD event – inspired by the Vet Futures project – took place on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 April at CodeNode, a community events venue in the City of London, and with an estimated 250 delegates in attendance, as well as online delegates, to discuss veterinary career diversity.

Members of RCVS Council and the RCVS Officer Team took part in a number of talks and workshop/ panel discussions. On Saturday:

  • Niall ConnellRCVS Council member and Junior Vice-President elect Niall Connell (pictured right) gave a talk called ‘Discovering life after ill-health retirement’ about how he has continued to work in the veterinary sphere after his multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2010.
  • RCVS Senior Vice-President Chris Tufnell, who runs our ViVet innovation project, gave a presentation entitled ‘Playing our part in world progress through science, innovation and caring’.
    Rob Pettitt, Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Orthopaedics at the University of Liverpool, delivered a talk on behalf of our Mind Matters Initiative titled ‘Mind over surgical matter’ in which he spoke about his own experiences of mental ill-health.
  • Chris Tufnell joined RCVS Council member Danny Chambers and the BVA’s Simon Doherty and Gudrun Ravetz in a Q & A panel session titled ‘What have the RCVS and BVA ever done for us?’

On Sunday:

  • Professor Stuart Reid, Chair of the Mind Matters Initiative, joined RCVS Council member Jo Dyer in a workshop titled ‘We are all human: healthy minds for medics and vets’.
  • Chris Tufnell took part in a workshop called ‘Practice makes perfect: Starting a veterinary business’.
  • And finally, Chris and Danny held a panel discussion titled ‘Advocating for the profession in practice’.

Ian Holloway, RCVS Director of Communications, said: “We were delighted to be invited to attend this new event which has grown out of a very popular Facebook group in which vets of all stages of their careers gathered to share stories and ideas on how to make the best of their veterinary education and experience.

“As well as taking part in many of the talks and workshops the College we also had a stand at the event where we promoted our ViVet innovation programme which aims to ensure that the veterinary profession is at the forefront of technological and business innovation in the animal health space.

“Furthermore, we were very pleased to be promoting the new RCVS Leadership Initiative which aims to instil everyday leadership for veterinary professionals at all career stages through a massive open online course on leadership development inspired by the NHS Leadership Academy.”

For more information about the event, including recordings from the day, visit the VSGD LIVE website.

Lady with dog

Vet bodies call on profession to highlight benefits of registering pets

With figures suggesting that 85% of pet owners have registered their pet with a vet but an estimated 3.1 million pet dogs, cats and rabbits in the UK are still not registered, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has joined forces with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to launch a social media campaign during National Pet Month (1 April to 7 May) to highlight the benefits of registering pets with veterinary practices.

The joint ‘Pets Need Vets’ campaign shares 11 reasons why pet owners should register their animals with a vet, including easier access to treatment during emergencies, regular health checks for pets and tailored nutritional advice, and encourages them to use our Find a Vet service to find the right vet practice for them and their pet.

Figures released in the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report in 2017 revealed that 85% of animal owners in the UK had already registered their pets with a vet, so this campaign aims to raise awareness amongst the remaining 15% of the value of doing the same.

Speaking about the campaign, British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said: “Pets need vets to ensure their lifelong wellbeing, which is why it is concerning that a large number of pet owners in the country have not registered their animals with a practice. It is important that owners have access to reliable advice and veterinary care to be able to best look after their pets, and so we are calling on the profession to get involved in promoting the wealth of benefits that registering with a vet practice provides.”

RCVS President Professor Stephen May added: “Owning an animal is a huge responsibility, which is why access to professional veterinary advice is vital. With this campaign we aim to highlight some of the very considerable benefits of registering pets with a veterinary practice, and raise awareness amongst pet owners who have not yet registered of the value of having access to professional veterinary advice, expertise and treatment to keep their animals healthy. We would be delighted if practices across the country would help share these messages on their own social media accounts.”

Vets, vet nurses and veterinary practices can help spread the word on the value of registering pets by sharing campaign resources on social media using the hashtag ‘#petsneedvets’, downloading campaign resources and using the opportunity to encourage local pet owners to register with their practice.

To further highlight the value of veterinary care and the special bond between a veterinary professional and the animals under their care, BVA is also encouraging existing clients to share pictures of their pets at the vets online using the hashtags #lovemyvet and #lovemyvetnurse.

The Pets Need Vets campaign stems from the aim of the joint BVA and RCVS Vet Futures Action Plan to develop communications tools to assist the public’s understanding of veterinary costs and fees, and promote the value of veterinary care.

View more information on the campaign and shareable resources.

Vet with stethoscope

RCVS launches leadership initiative at BSAVA Congress

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons officially launched its new Leadership Initiative on Thursday 5 April, the first day of BSAVA Congress in Birmingham.

The initiative was introduced by RCVS Vice-Presidents Amanda Boag and Chris Tufnell, and RCVS Director of Leadership and Innovation, Anthony Roberts, at a session titled ‘New initiatives to support veterinary leadership and innovation’.

Inspired by the Vet Futures and VN Futures projects, the initiative is part of the RCVS Strategic Plan 2017-2019 which had as one of its ambitions “to become a Royal College with leadership and innovation at its heart, and support this creatively and with determination,” and will be run in parallel with the College’s innovation project, Vivet, which was launched in September 2017.

The initiative’s goals include integrating leadership into veterinary professionals’ continuing education, in part by creating a Massive Open Online Course (or MOOC), leading by example in the College by developing Council and staff members’ leadership skills, and highlighting more diverse leadership opportunities.

We are now taking registrations for a pilot version of the MOOC starting in late June, for which preview materials are available on the RCVS website. The MOOC, called the Edward Jenner Veterinary Leadership Programme, was developed in conjunction with the NHS Leadership Academy and also includes an audio drama featuring veterinary professionals living in the fictional county of Glenvern, which provides a substrate for reflection and learning about the diverse leadership challenges veterinary professionals face on a daily basis.

Anthony commented: “Leadership isn’t just about grand, heroic actions – it’s about exercising judgement, and leading yourself and your team on a daily basis. Many members of the veterinary team will be doing this already without necessarily thinking of it as leadership, and with this programme we hope to help people to identify and build upon their own abilities.”

Amanda added: “Having strong veterinary leaders is ultimately all about animal welfare. We know that practices with well-supported, confident staff are often the ones that are best-equipped to respond to both the expected stresses of the job and the unexpected emergencies, allowing the team to provide the best care for the animal.”

To be part of the first pilot group for the MOOC, listen to the first two episodes of the audio drama, and preview content please visit the leadership page, or contact Anthony Roberts, RCVS Director of Leadership and Innovation, for more information.

ViVet logo

Innovation Symposium reports and videos now available

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has recently updated its bespoke ViVet website with written reports and videos from the programme’s recent Innovation Symposium where the initiative was launched.

The ViVet programme grew out of the recommendations of the Vet Futures research and is designed to ensure veterinary professionals are engaged with innovation and technological development in the animal health sector.

ViVet was launched at the Innovation Symposium which took place at the Warwick Business School at The Shard in September and saw delegates working in the veterinary, health technology and/or innovation space gather to hear experts in the field.

Among those speaking were:

  • Professor Richard Susskind, a technology advisor to government and business, on the impact of exponential technological development on the professions;
  • Christopher Woolard from the Financial Conduct Authority on how regulators can support innovation;
  • Dr Umang Patel from health technology company Babylon on how telemedicine can support and enhance clinical standards;
  • Professor Dimitrios Spyridonidis, from the Warwick Business School, on the relationship between innovation and disruption;
  • Dr Guen Bradbury and Dr Greg Dickens from innovation consultancy Innovia on how practices can embrace technology;
  • Dr Adam Little, Director of Veterinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University on veterinary innovation in the North American context; and,
  • Anthony Roberts, Director of Leadership and Innovation at the RCVS, who introduced the delegates to the College’s ViVet project.

Videos of all of these talks plus the panel debates about telemedicine, big data and veterinary technologies currently in the pipeline, in addition to written reports of each, are available.

The site also has a number of blogs and case studies which look at areas of innovation in the veterinary profession and examples of how practices can best embrace technological and business development to enhance the service they provide and animal health and welfare.

Recent articles include the impact of 3D printing of veterinary orthopaedics, what the veterinary sector looks like from an outside investor perspective, how technology is creating alternative career paths for vets and how vets can best fuse online and offline interactions.

Anthony Roberts, RCVS Director of Leadership and Innovation, said: “The inaugural Innovation Symposium was a huge success, bringing together some of the best and brightest in the veterinary innovation sector, with great speakers, fascinating issues and an overall atmosphere of positivity about how the veterinary sector can move forward.

“Through ViVet, the College will now be working to provide support and advice to the professions on how they can both embrace innovation and also influence it so that it works in the best interests of animal health and welfare. We will also be examining our regulatory framework to make sure it is fit for purpose as far as supporting and encouraging veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses to make use of the full range of technologies are concerned.

“If you are interested in regular updates about the programme then please visit the website to sign up to the ViVet newsletter.”

Vet Futures student ambassadors

Training day for new Vet Futures student ambassadors

The Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) held the first training day for its new Vet Futures Student Ambassadors last Thursday.

The day was hosted by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA), and supported by the Veterinary Schools Council.

A recurring theme throughout the Vet Futures project has been a need for a broader range of career options for veterinary surgeons, and research identified that dissatisfaction was already present among student veterinary surgeons and recent graduates.

Since the launch of the Vet Futures Action Plan in July 2016 the College and BVA have been engaging with the wider profession to take forward the 24 actions, and AVS developed the idea for the Vet Futures Student Ambassadors programme. Two students each from the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Nottingham, Surrey, and Glasgow, along with University College Dublin and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) were selected to become Vet Futures Ambassadors who could champion Vet Futures within their schools and develop and deliver some student specific projects in line with the Vet Futures ambitions.

The training day included training on planning, communication, presentation and leadership, and discussion aimed at developing student-led projects, facilitated by College and BVA staff.

Themes chosen by the students as areas for focus included innovation, veterinary careers, communication with the public on animal welfare issues, mental health and wellbeing of veterinary professionals and One Health.

Rosanna Kirkwood, one of the ambassadors from Nottingham, talked about why she applied to be an ambassador: “I’ve already have lots of friends who have graduated, and one or two years out they don’t want to be vets anymore – why is that? Is that an admissions problem, is that a vet schools problem, is that a problem in the profession? I want to see how we can change that, and work with the veterinary schools and the profession to measure expectations and prepare students for the future.”

Seth Kennerd from the RVC added: “It’s important that we as a profession look to the future and not only embrace change, but become champions of it. We must work together to find, create and strengthen innovative technologies and ideas so that graduates know what they have at their disposal and are not afraid to use it.”

Eleanor Robertson, President of the AVS, said: “AVS has been excited about the Vet Futures project from day one and we want to play our part in making it a success. As students, our members are the future of this profession and they should therefore be active in shaping it. I was delighted at the level of interest from students from across all of the vet schools and very impressed by the ideas and novel thinking that came through during the training day.”

Animal welfare needs sticker

BVA encourages profession to inspire next generation of vets

As children return to school this month, the British Veterinary Association is encouraging veterinary teams to help children learn about animal welfare after figures show 85% of school children have never heard of the five animal welfare needs – but primary school is the age when most vets decide they want to enter the profession.

BVA’s recent Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey revealed that more than 50% of young vets surveyed had settled on pursuing veterinary medicine by the age of 10, and 76% said that their choice was driven by an interest in caring for animals.

Unfortunately, despite over half of UK households owning a pet, PDSA’s Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report shows that only a quarter of children have been taught how to care for pets at school, even as 97% of veterinary professionals cite the value in encouraging pet owners to better understand and provide for the five welfare needs of their pets.

To support the next generation to be more aware of how to care for their pets, the Veterinary Animal Welfare Coalition – which includes BVA, the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), British Veterinary Zoological Society (BVZS), Blue Cross, PDSA and RSPCA – launched a set of stickers to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the Animal Welfare Acts as an educational tool for vets, teachers and parents.

The stickers are designed to be a used as a fun way of introducing and discussing the five vital needs of animals as described in the UK’s Animal Welfare Acts:

  • the provision of a suitable living environment
  • a suitable diet
  • the need to exhibit normal behaviour
  • to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

BVA hopes that by teaching children about the five welfare needs, they will in turn discuss this with their family and friends at home too. Apart from the principles of responsible ownership, it is hoped that sensitisation to the welfare needs of animals will instil in young people a lasting respect and compassion for all animals, from fish and rabbits to dogs and horses.

British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said:

“Year on year, irresponsible ownership and lack of owner understanding for pets’ needs comes out in vets’ top three concerns.

“Educating children and young adults about the five welfare needs of animals is an invaluable step towards ensuring that the next generation not only values the human-animal bond but is aware of its responsibilities towards pets.

“We hope that using these stickers and holding sessions on animal welfare at school, local groups or in practice will translate to happy pet owners and, indeed, happy healthy pets too.”

To order a set of five welfare need stickers for free, email the BVA on media@bva.co.uk with the requested amount (max 10 sheets/150 stickers) and a postal address.

ViVet logo

Ambitious programme to encourage veterinary innovation launched

At the inaugural Innovation Symposium held in London today (Wednesday 20 September 2017), the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons launched ViVet, an ambitious and wide-ranging programme designed to ensure veterinary professionals are at the forefront of innovation in the animal health sector.

ViVet was inspired by Vet Futures, the research initiative run jointly by the RCVS and British Veterinary Association. This research identified the need for veterinary professionals to seize the opportunities offered by innovation to transform the way they work and to widen access to veterinary services.

Managed by the RCVS, ViVet (derived from the Latin word ‘vivet’ meaning ‘it will thrive’) will provide a variety of resources and support to help the professions keep pace with change and remain at the forefront of animal healthcare provision.

Chris Tufnell, RCVS Senior Vice-President, helped develop the scope of the ViVet programme during his presidential year. He said: “This is an ambitious project for the College to embark upon but also very important for the future relevance and survival of the professions. Technology in the animal health sector is developing rapidly, such as the growth of telemedicine, wearable and implantable devices to gather health-related data from our animals, and low-cost genomic sequencing.

“These technologies could have a disruptive effect on the veterinary sector, so it’s important to encourage and support veterinary input at an early stage to enable the professions to shape their development and ensure that animal health and welfare is a foremost consideration.

“ViVet will help veterinary professionals to engage proactively with innovation in animal health, so that they can embrace and drive change and are not side-lined by it.”

Accompanying the launch of the project was the launch of its website which already contains a number of resources – including blogs and case studies – to showcase new technologies and innovative business models.

Anthony Roberts, Director of Leadership and Innovation at the College, said: “The aim of these resources is to help veterinary professionals harness the immense opportunities that innovation can bring to animal health and welfare by providing practical advice on areas such as launching new products and services and, in turn, encourage innovators to think about how the expertise and knowledge of the veterinary professions could input into new technologies.

“Furthermore, the programme will also help the College gain insights into the animal health market and how it is evolving. This will allow us to develop a regulatory framework that is relevant and adaptable to 21st century technology, while continuing to foster and support responsible innovation.”

ViVet will also continue to organise events like today’s live-streamed symposium, which brought together thought-leaders from across the animal health, technology and business sectors, and provided a forum to discuss the opportunities and threats presented by innovation in the veterinary sphere, the impact it may have on the professions and how they are regulated.

Further details about the RCVS Innovation Symposium, including the full programme and speaker profiles, are available at www.rcvs.org.uk/innovation. Videos of speakers and a written report of the proceedings will be available from the ViVet website in due course.

Vet Futures: full steam ahead during first year of action phase

One year on from the Vet Futures Summit, and excellent progress has been made on key actions that are putting the veterinary profession in charge of its future, made possible through great engagement from the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions.

 Vet Futures, powered by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA), created a blueprint for the future of the veterinary profession, and over the past twelve months activity has been taking place across the professions to put the plan into action.

The Vet Futures Summit took place on 4 July 2016 at the Royal Veterinary College in Camden, and saw the launch of the Vet Futures Action Plan and the VN Futures Report and Action Plan in front of an assembled audience of vets, nurses, students and stakeholders from the UK and overseas.

The Vet Futures Action Plan included a series of 24 work-streams to be completed over five years (2016-2020), building on the six core themes of: animal health and welfare; veterinary professionals’ wider roles in society; the health and wellbeing of veterinary professionals; diverse and rewarding veterinary careers; sustainable businesses and user-focused services; and leadership.

Over the last twelve months, key activities have included:

  • The setting up of a UK One Health Coordination Group, which will meet for the first time later this year, bringing together representatives from the veterinary, medical and environmental professions to provide a focus for One Health activity in the UK, and delivering the actions in the BVA animal welfare strategy (Actions A and F).
  • The establishment of the Veterinary Animal Welfare Coalition, which aims to coordinate public communications on key animal welfare issues to amplify messages about the five welfare needs. The Coalition has launched the five welfare needs logo and undertaken PR and social media activity throughout National Pet Month (Action D).
  • The launch, by the Veterinary Schools Council (VSC) Research Committee, of a UK summer studentship programme that aims to increase the number of vets engaged in research – 16 students will start the programme this summer (Action E).
  • The planning stages for an online careers hub as a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in studying for, or progressing, their veterinary career (Action G).
  • The launch of a Graduate Outcomes project to consider the skills and competences of future veterinary professionals, including the viability and desirability of limited licensure, the behaviours and skills required of veterinary graduates and how the undergraduate course might be structured in the future (Actions H, I and J).
  • A survey amongst non-UK EU graduates to better understand the support required by this group (as well as their intentions with regard to working in the UK post-Brexit), which received a 55% response rate (Action K).
  • A collaborative research project on workforce issues with psychologists at the University of Exeter, as part of which researchers are currently undertaking a literature review and analysing existing data in preparation for further research into some of the major workforce trends and challenges (Action L).
  • Research towards the development of a leadership massive open online course (MOOC) and also a hub to promote and develop leadership skills at all levels within the veterinary profession (Action Q).
  • The creation of an Innovation Symposium, to be held at the Warwick Business School campus in the Shard on 20 September 2017, which will bring together thought-leaders and those involved in innovative veterinary technologies and business models, to lead discussions on how these can be embraced by the profession. The event will also see the launch of an online innovation hub (Action R).
  • A consultation across the professions and the public to gather views around how new veterinary technologies should be regulated, with a view to establishing a framework to encompass future innovations; around 1,500 views were received and the findings are being considered by the RCVS Standards Committee (Action S).
  • Agreement on options for a framework for the regulation of allied professionals by RCVS Council at its June 2017 meeting, which are now being progressed into more detailed proposals (Action U).
  • Following discussion with the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), the Vet Futures model is now being embraced across Europe, with the FVE adopting aspects of it into their own strategy plan, and France, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark developing similar projects. Some of the European associations, such as the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations and the European Veterinarians in Education, Research and Industry, have now added Vet Futures Europe to their strategies (Action W).

VN Futures

The VN Futures project (Action X of Vet Futures) isolated six ambitions to achieve by 2020, with the shorter time-scale reflecting the faster rate of both turnover and training for veterinary nurses.

A number of development groups have been created, focusing on each of these ambitions and creating specific actions to ensure their completion. Of these:

  • The One Health Working Party has collaborated with the Royal College of Nursing on smoking cessation.
  • The Careers Progression Group has met twice and is planning four regional events, the first of which will take place at Hartpury College in Gloucester on 11 July, and will focus on veterinary nurses as managers.
  • The Schedule 3 Working Party has asked vets and nurses for their thoughts on, and experiences of, the role of the veterinary nurse. About 35% of veterinary nurses and 20% of veterinary surgeons responded, feeding into a wider analysis of whether Schedule 3 should be reformed.

“When we launched Vet Futures back in 2014, the scope of the project seemed daunting and some were sceptical of our ability to succeed. However, through a robust process of evidence-gathering, analysis, action planning and now taking action itself, we are starting to make an impact on some of those core areas that are so fundamental to the future of our profession, such as animal welfare, technology, veterinary skills and knowledge, and leadership,” says RCVS President, Chris Tufnell.

“Our Action Plan set out a five-year timeframe and we have made some really excellent progress in year one. This will form the foundation of work yet to come – although it remains important to ensure we scan the horizon for new issues that will have an impact on the profession, navigating our way through challenges as they arise.”

BVA President Gudrun Ravetz adds: “The excitement was palpable at the Vet Futures Summit last year and it spurred us on to roll up our sleeves immediately to start working on the Action Plan, and so a lot has been achieved already.

“Many of the actions are interlinked and so BVA, RCVS and the VSC are working closely together to oversee their delivery, but we have been particularly pleased at the high level of engagement and enthusiasm from others. The success of Vet Futures will be in the profession coming together to bring about the changes we need for a sustainable future.”

College calls for certainty around the rights of EU nationals working in the UK

The RCVS has called upon the Prime Minister to prioritise giving greater certainty to EU nationals working in the UK in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

This follows the publication of our report looking at the impact of last year’s referendum vote on European veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses. The findings show that the lingering uncertainty around the right to work here is leading many to question seriously whether they should stay in the UK.

Earlier this year we commissioned the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) to send a confidential survey to 5,572 veterinary surgeons who graduated from a vet school in the EU (excluding the UK) and who are registered as veterinary surgeons in this country, as well as around 100 non-UK EU-trained veterinary nurses.

The survey asked a wide range of questions about how these individuals felt that the vote to leave the EU had affected them, how they felt about their future working in the UK veterinary sector and how they felt the College had dealt with the issue of Brexit. Some 3,078 people (including 19 veterinary nurses) responded to the survey – a response rate of 55.3%.

Here is a summary of some key findings from the survey:

  • Demographics: The gender split for responses was 60% female and 40% male, while the mean average age was 36. Some 87% of respondents were working full-time.
  • Country of qualification: The largest group of respondents (22%) qualified in Spain, with Italy (14%), Poland (10%), Romania (9%), Portugal (7%), Germany (6%) and the Republic of Ireland (6%) following. The remaining 26% qualified in 18 different countries, each of which accounted for fewer than 5% of EU registrants. Although these figures relate to country of qualification and not the nationality of the individuals, in 91% of cases these were the same.
  • Area of work: Of those responding the majority (78%) worked in clinical practice. Of the 603 who do not work in clinical practice 38% worked for the Food Standards Agency, 21% worked for the Animal and Plant Health Agency and 18% worked in higher education.
  • Continuing to work in the UK: Some 73% of respondents said they would like to continue to work in the UK. However, 41% of respondents said they were not optimistic about their future, 67% were finding the uncertainty about their future difficult, 64% felt less welcome, 44% felt fearful about the future and 40% felt they had reduced job security. Furthermore, 40% of respondents said they were more likely to leave, with 18% actively looking for work outside the UK. Some 79% are awaiting the outcome of the Brexit negotiations before deciding on what to do.
  • Impact on veterinary sector: 88% of respondents believed that the UK will have a shortage of veterinary surgeons if non-UK EU national vets are no longer welcome in the country. Some 77% also believed that EU-graduate vets are also less likely to apply to join the UK Register.
  • Experiences of prejudice: 16% of respondents said they had personally experienced prejudice at work following the vote to leave the EU with 22% saying they had observed it.
  • Support from the College: 74% of respondents said they were happy with the support and advice provided by the RCVS so far.

Commenting on the survey result, Chris Tufnell, President of the RCVS, said: “This survey makes the strongest possible case that the Government must act fast to reassure our EU colleagues in practices, universities and industry that they are welcome to stay in the UK.

“EU vets and vet nurses make a massive contribution to the UK veterinary sector and the health and welfare of animals and humans.

“Beyond this commitment we will also be lobbying the Government that, after we leave the EU, suitably qualified vets from overseas are prioritised for UK work visas or equivalent, particularly if they are working in public health and the meat industry.

“I have written to Michael Gove, the new Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, outlining our position and our Brexit Principles and have invited him to visit the RCVS at Belgravia House to discuss these further. I hope that he accepts our offer so that we can have some constructive talks on these matters.

“On a personal note, I am very sorry to see that a significant proportion of respondents had experienced prejudice at work. This is simply not acceptable and we, as a regulator, have been conscious that ‘anti-foreigner’ rhetoric in the country at large could have an effect on hard-working and talented members of our profession, which is why we raised the matter in our letter to the Prime Minister last year.”

The findings of interviews with a sample of non-UK EU-graduated veterinary surgeons working in the UK will be published over the summer. Meanwhile, over the next two years, IES will also be carrying out two further pieces of research that will track the opinions and intentions of non-UK EU-graduated veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses over time as Brexit policies are formed and the future status of non-UK nationals made clearer.

To read the IES report and the College’s three Brexit Principles in full, please visit our Brexit page.

Government recognises impact of Brexit on veterinary profession

The Government recognises the “vital work” that UK and EU vets currently do, and will continue to do after the UK’s exit from the EU, but cautions that UK-based EU vets’ working rights can only be protected if reciprocal agreements can be guaranteed for British citizens living in EU member states, according to a letter from the Home Office to BVA and RCVS.

Six weeks ago, BVA and RCVS sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister outlining their concerns over how Brexit, and its impact on EU migration, may affect the veterinary profession.

The letter, from BVA President Gudrun Ravetz and RCVS President Chris Tufnell, highlighted that the UK veterinary profession is made up of over 26,000 veterinary surgeons and over 11,000 veterinary nurses, working to improve the health and welfare of animals, to monitor and control the spread of diseases, and to assure the safety of the food we eat. Each year around 50% of veterinary surgeons registering to practise in the UK are from overseas, with the vast majority coming from the EU.

The response from Robert Goodwill MP, as the Minister responsible for the key issues highlighted in the letter, emphasised:

“The Prime Minister has provided repeated reassurances that she wants to protect the working status of EU nationals already living in the UK, and the only circumstances in which that wouldn’t be possible is if British citizens’ rights in other EU Member States were not protected in return.”

The RCVS has begun the process of commissioning detailed research into the impact that Brexit is having upon those working in the profession and the implications this could have for the veterinary workforce, with BVA gathering evidence from across the profession through its Brexit Working Group and its regular Voice of the Veterinary Profession surveys.

In his letter, the Immigration Minister went on to explain that the Government intend to reach an agreement on the status of EU nationals as soon as possible while also welcoming the input of BVA and RCVS into this important issue and the forthcoming RCVS and BVA research results.

BVA and RCVS are actively seeking vets’ views on Brexit through ongoing activities including a Vet Futures-led Breakfast on Brexit session at London Vet Show; a consultative meeting, held at RCVS with BVA input, on the impact on food safety and meat hygiene services; and a meeting, held by BVA in Belfast, focusing on the unique Northern Ireland context of a shared border with an EU member state in order to support the development of the veterinary profession’s priorities and positions to influence live negotiations around the UK’s exit from the EU.

The letter from the Immigration Minister ended on a personal note, recognising the work that EU vets carry out in the UK as a farmer himself.

BVA President Gudrun Ravetz said:

“As the Minister’s letter flags, there are still many unknown-unknowns when it comes to Brexit, which is why it’s vital that we continue to gather vets’ views and work closely with the RCVS, amongst others, to ensure that the voice of the veterinary profession is heard in Brexit negotiations and discussions. It’s encouraging that the Minister’s letter not only acknowledges the vital role vets play in official terms, but through his personal note as well. BVA has been, and will continue to raise the profession’s most pressing issues to Ministers and MPs in every government across the UK to ensure that we secure the best possible outcomes for our profession and for animal health and welfare.”

Chris Tufnell, President of the RCVS, said:

“We are grateful for the reply from the Minister and appreciate his personal recognition of the contribution that EU-graduated vets make, particularly in the public health area. As an organisation we are still seeking to address the uncertainties around Brexit in order to take advantage of the opportunities it offers and mitigate its risks. As part of this we will be working with the BVA to try and secure the position of those EU-graduated veterinary surgeons working in the UK although, as the Minister states, this will form a part of wider government negotiations.”