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Farm vets are yet another profession that is being hit by labour shortages in the UK.

The number of vets practising on both farms and in the small animal sector has been well below capacity for a number of years but, in the past, the shortfall was plugged by vets from the EU. Brexit changed that, as vets applying for visas to work in the UK were being required to pass radically higher English language examinations.

The number of vets applying for positions in the UK has dropped by 75 per cent. Combined with increased demands for vet checks at abattoirs due to new, Brexit-induced export requirements and the high numbers of people now owning pets purchased during lockdown, veterinary services are at breaking point.

A letter recently sent to vet practices across the country by out-of-hours provider Vets Now warned it was becoming “increasingly challenging to staff our clinics”. It listed the rise in pet ownership during the pandemic and an industry shortage of vets as the primary causes.

“We are doing all we can to ensure continuity of service in our clinics, but on occasion, when we do not have adequate staff to operate our service safely, we have made the difficult decision to close one of our clinics and divert the staff and the caseload to another nearby clinic,” the letter read.

A spokesman for the RCVS said the language requirements for vets coming from the EU to the UK were to ensure that foreign vets are ‘appropriately trained’ to practise in the UK. He said training and support is on hand to support vets who are moving to the UK.

Pic credit: Photo by Jorge Salvadoron Unsplash