BVA worried by results of new virus impact survey

BVA worried by results of new virus impact survey

Almost three-quarters of vets in the UK contacted by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) for a new survey have said they are concerned about stress and burnout in the profession because of Covid-19.

Concerns around practical vet student training and student and new veterinary graduate confidence also topped the list of areas of concern relating to the pandemic. On the impact on animal health and welfare in the medium term, there was most concern for zoo animals and wildlife.

Six months on from the national lockdown, BVA polled members of the Voice of the Veterinary Profession panel in a snapshot survey to gauge how the profession is feeling about different aspects of veterinary life that may be affected by coronavirus. A total 565 respondents ranked their levels of concern across health and wellbeing, finance and employment, students and new graduates, and animal health and welfare.

The top concerns are: stress and burnout in the profession – 74 per cent very or quite concerned; the provision of extra-mural studies for vet students – 72 per cent; student and new graduate confidence – 67 per cent; Stress and burnout amongst colleagues – 67 per cent; the impact of a recession on the veterinary sector – 62 per cent and, wildlife and zoo animal health and welfare in the medium term – 62 per cent.

The findings are published as the UK faces the second wave of the pandemic.

Veterinary workplaces have adapted to working safely, but four in ten respondents (42 per cent) are very or quite concerned about contracting Covid-19 in their workplace, rising to 55 per cent amongst those working in mixed practice and 50 per cent in small animal/exotic practice.

Respondents were more concerned about stress and burnout amongst their colleagues (67 per cent very or quite concerned) than the impact on themselves (45 per cent), but more than half (58 per cent) of small animal/exotics vets reported being concerned about their own stress and burnout. Managers and employees reported higher levels of concern around stress and burnout than business owners and those who are self-employed.

When it comes to employment, the profession is a bit more optimistic, although a level of caution remains. Over a fifth (23 per cent) of respondents are not at all concerned about job security in the veterinary sector, with 43 per cent a little concerned and 31 per cent very or quite concerned. Equine vets (45 per cent) and charity vets (64 per cent) are very or quite concerned about job security in their own sectors, against an average of 23 per cent across all areas of work.

However, 95 per cent of respondents had some level of concern (a little, quite or very) about the potential impact of a recession on the veterinary sector, with government, equine and charity vets most concerned.

The findings will be used to inform BVA’s work on supporting the veterinary profession as the pandemic continues.

Commenting, BVA President James Russell said the survey painted ‘a worrying, but not surprising picture’ of health and wellbeing in the profession.

‘BVA also shares the profession’s concerns about the impact on students and new graduates. EMS is the jewel in the crown of UK veterinary teaching and it’s frustrating that opportunities to gain practical training have been hampered by the Covid restrictions.’ Added Mr Russell. ‘The issue is at the top of our agenda with the RCVS and Vet Schools Council to make sure we can collectively support the next generation of vets through this difficult time.

“As the UK is braced for the second wave, we know we are much better prepared and far more able to work safely to do our bit to tackle the spread of coronavirus. But it’s vital that we continue to support one another, as well as continuing the spirit of collaboration with neighbouring practices that helped us get through the height of the pandemic.

“We are reflecting on all the findings of the survey to make sure BVA is able to continue supporting the profession with all of the challenges of Covid-19 and we’re always keen to hear from members.”

BVA members can contact with any Covid-19 questions or concerns.