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Brexit through the eyes of a Spanish vet

21 Feb 2017 | Bruno Nicolas


I’m a Spanish vet who graduated in Barcelona in 2004. After graduation I worked full time in small animal practices, covering out-of-hours weekend and night shifts for a miserable salary.

Bruno was nominated for vet of the yearI’m a Spanish vet who graduated in Barcelona in 2004. After graduation I worked full time in small animal practices, covering out-of-hours weekend and night shifts for a miserable salary.

After 10 years, I decided I wanted to change my life, learn English, improve my vet skills and live ‘an experience.’ I decided to move to the UK as it is the best country to learn English and it has high standards within and for the veterinary profession. It was hard to make this decision to leave my family and friends and start from the beginning, but it was now or never. It is easier to do it when you don't have any attachments like children and a mortgage.

I have been in this country for nearly 3 years now and I am very happy; my English has massively improved, my vet skills are much better and I have a good quality of life – my current job has a good salary and I don’t have to work out-of-hours.

But just as everything starts getting better and settling down, the EU referendum happens. Brexit means the working rights of EU professionals will probably change - but in what way? This is uncertain at the moment, but it doesn't look good for us foreign vets.

The impact of Brexit on the veterinary profession

In my opinion, Brexit is ridiculous due to the amount of EU professionals working in the UK. In terms of the veterinary profession, around 50% of new vets that register with RCVS each year are non-UK vets. What will happen if we all leave the UK? We offer a high standard of service, and we pay our taxes. In the short and medium term, there are simply not enough British vets graduating in the UK. Therefore, how can these high standards be maintained? 50% of all UK vets is a huge amount to replace.

And this is just talking about vets, what about doctors and nurses? Brexit could cause a crisis in the NHS.

Apparently, the last letter from the Home Office recognised the vital work that EU vets do for the country, but “those rights can only be protected if reciprocal agreements can be guaranteed for British citizens living in EU member states.”

I am a hardworking professional and I hope the UK recognises that people like me are needed to continue delivering high standards of veterinary advice and expertise across the country. I worry for other EU professionals who have been working in the UK, giving their services to the country and paying taxes, who might not be recognised or protected in the same way.

On a personal level, I am not extremely concerned about Brexit. At the end of the day, if I lose my rights in this country, I will go back to Spain with my family and friends, with another language learned and a massive improvement in my skills, so I am not losing a lot. I am more concerned for friends who have started families here and can’t or won’t go back to their own countries. They will simply have to accept the new rules here. That is sad.

For the moment we just have to wait and see what the Prime Minister decides, but I would like to think she has wisdom enough to realise that this country would be a poorer country without EU citizens offering their help, services and skills.


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