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

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. 

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% 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. 

“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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