BVA President warns MPs over recruitment and retention of staff

BVA President warns MPs over recruitment and retention of staff

Multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder measures are needed to improve recruitment, retention and rates of return in the veterinary workforce, BVA President Justine Shotton has warned.

Speaking to around 80 guests at BVA’s Annual Dinner in Westminster, Dr Shotton praised the efforts of veterinary teams to keep animals healthy, protect public health and keep the food chain moving against a backdrop of Covid, Brexit and a recent surge in pet ownership.

However, she cautioned that this has been an incredibly challenging time, with many problems to be surmounted.

“We also need to acknowledge that this has come at a significant – and ultimately unsustainable – cost to the profession’s capacity and wellbeing,” she said.

“If we are going to cope with ongoing and new or unforeseen challenges ahead, we need action now to improve recruitment, retention and rates of return to veterinary work, to ensure that all existing vets can feel supported, safe and rewarded in their careers, and to encourage future vets from all walks of life to follow in our footsteps.”

Addressing guests, including the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss, parliamentarians, key representatives from animal health and welfare organisations and colleagues from across the veterinary profession, Dr Shotton called for forthcoming legislation such as the Kept Animals Bill and new laws on animal sentience to be progressed as quickly as possible.

‘A sustainable future’

“We’re well aware that other events are rightly and understandably taking parliamentary priority at the moment, but I do want to make a plea to government to do what they can to get these crucial and long-awaited pieces of legislation over the line in time for the Queen’s Speech.

“Given the strength of feeling and – in the case of sentience – the length of the wait, we owe it to billions of animals to seize the chance to protect them in law and reassert the UK’s standards on welfare.”

The BVA President ended her speech by thanking BVA staff, members and all stakeholders for all their support, and recognising that the year had been punctuated by “continued challenges and uncertainty for the veterinary profession.”

Reflecting on her presidential theme, she said: “I feel that my theme of sustainability rings truer than ever. We must all work together to create a sustainable future for our workforce and the environments that surround us.  This will not be easy, but I have the greatest respect for members of our wonderful profession and feel confident that we will rise up to face the challenges ahead.”