The lack of qualified veterinary professionals coming into the industry was discussed in the House of Lords recently, when The Rt Hon Lord Wigley asked the Government what discussions they have had with representatives of the veterinary profession about the availability of qualified veterinary personnel following the UK’s departure from the EU. The Baroness Hodgson raised the question on behalf of the Animal Health Professions Register (AHPR) as to whether the government had considered some of the allied professions, such as chiropractic, osteopathy and physio- therapy, for the treatment of musculoskeletal problems in animals, especially horses and dogs. She stated that all of these professions are well qualified, evidence-based and self-regulated, and this would enormously ease the pressure on veterinary practices. The Rt Hon Lord Benyon, Under Secretary of State at DEFRA, acknowledged that these practices have an impact on animal welfare and dealing with animal illnesses and agreed that more trained professionals are needed in the veterinary profession.
AHPR chairman, Liz Trowman, has been working with Baroness Hodgson to highlight the need for more trained professionals and believes this is a very positive step. “It is a start. Baroness Hodgson raised a question in the lords on our behalf, and although we are not directly referenced in this, she discussed it with me beforehand and I think it is a really positive step. We now need further discussion between government and the BVA to move things forward”, said Liz.
There has been a shortage of UK vets for a long time, but overseas veterinary graduates seeking experience could readily fill the void. Since Brexit the number of EU-registered vets coming to work in the UK has fallen by 68%, down from over 1,100 in 2019 to just 364 last year according to Lord Wigley, who called for more funding to expand the number of UK university places for veterinary students.
“We already have new vets coming into the profession from the University of Surrey scheme, which was brought in a few years ago. Since then, we have new schools appearing at Harper Adams and Keele, the University of Central Lancashire and the Scottish royal colleges, and a collaboration between Aberystwyth University and the Royal Veterinary College. This will bring on stream new vets, trained in this country, to work here, alongside other measures we are bringing in to resolve the shorter-term problems”, Lord Benyon replied.
The aim of the Animal Health Professions Register is to raise standards in the industry and assist animal owners and veterinary surgeons in ensuring that the professionals they use to assist in the treatment and health maintenance of their or their client’s animals are suitably trained and accountable. All registrants have achieved an industry recognised appropriate standard of training through externally accredited courses, comply with Continuing Professional Development and hold full, valid professional indemnity insurance as required by the wider industry.