Vets at breaking point as crisis looms, warns NIVA president
The workload faced by vets in Northern Ireland has left many at breaking point and coupled with the recruitment situation the profession is “almost in crisis,” the president of the North of Ireland Veterinary Association has warned.
Mark Little spoke out to highlight what he called “a perfect storm” for the veterinary community, with Covid, Brexit and some negative perceptions of the industry and its demands, all playing their part.
He told NI Veterinary Today: “This situation, in terms of recruitment, is not unique to Northern Ireland. I’ve spoken to colleagues in Australia and they are giving travel exemptions to qualified vets to try and tackle the crisis there.”
‘Running to a standstill’
While a consultation is underway on opening the first dedicated vet school for Northern Ireland, Mark is worried about how bad things might get here before that comes to fruition.
“We haven’t even broken ground yet and in the best case scenario you are looking at at least seven years before we see the first tranche of graduates. I hate to think what things could be like by then.”
The NIVA president said Northern Ireland’s veterinary profession had long fallen victim to the “brain drain” of would-be-vets leaving here to study in England and Scotland and never returning. He told NI Veterinary Today that until our own vet school is churning out its own graduates others may need to be incentivised to take more students from here who can come home to fill the void.
At present University College Dublin produces around 100 graduates each year but could potentially take more NI undergraduates were the Executive to respond to the current situation and make it financially more attractive for them to do so.
“We could then begin to address some of the problems that have seen 175 veterinary jobs advertised here so far this year.” said Mark.
“We also have to then retain any young vets that do join the profession by giving them a a work/life balance that is simply not often there at present. People are running to a standstill and veterinary work is too often being prioritised to emergencies only. Animals and vets are suffering.”
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