The Home Office has announced that it is accepting the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommendation for vets to be reinstated on the Shortage Occupation List.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has hailed this as a “huge win for animal welfare and a resounding vote of confidence in the veterinary community”.

In a written statement on July 23, then Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that the government was accepting all the MAC’s recommendations on the expansion of the Shortage Occupation List and that the necessary amendments would be made in the Autumn Immigration Rules changes.

Simon Doherty, BVA president, said: “We are absolutely delighted by the government’s decision to heed our calls to reinstate vets to the Shortage Occupation List. This is a huge win for animal welfare and a resounding vote of confidence in the veterinary community and the multiple benefits it realises across the UK.

“Working with our members and stakeholders, including the RCVS and colleagues at Defra, BVA ran a concerted campaign to restore vets to the list, raising concerns over our already stretched profession’s capacity to meet future demand.

"This decisive move by the government will make it easier to recruit into the profession and we now look forward to working with the new Defra Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to ensure we have a flexible, skilled and robust veterinary workforce that meets the UK’s needs for both the immediate future and in the longer term.

“Alongside this welcome boost, the profession itself will continue to undertake work to understand and address recruitment and retention challenges both now and into the future.”

In its submission to the MAC committee, produced jointly with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), it highlighted the high proportion of EU vets working in the UK, and raised concerns that an already stretched veterinary workforce could struggle to cope with increased demand for some services after Brexit. The call was supported by Defra, which made its own submission to the committee on behalf of vets.

Around 95 per cent of the vets carrying out critical public health work and animal welfare monitoring in abattoirs hail from overseas, predominantly the EU. BVA has also raised concerns that demand for veterinary certification and health testing services could increase dramatically in the event of a no deal Brexit, placing significant pressures on the workforce.