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Covid-19: BVA President's update #3

20 Mar 2020 | COVID-19

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The world is facing a global public health emergency with the spread of Covid-19. All sorts of challenges, including financial, lie ahead for all sectors, including the veterinary profession. At this time, public health, including the health and wellbeing of our members, must take precedence.

The government has announced that with schools closing some provision will be continued for key workers, but made it clear that it is only for those children who absolutely need to attend, and have asked key workers to keep children at home wherever possible. This is to balance stopping the spread of Covid-19 with ensuring there are sufficient front-line services to maintain public health, safety and food security.

Whilst I understand there will be disappointment that not all veterinary team members and colleagues have been granted key worker status, it is imperative to remember that this status relates only to the provision of continued childcare provision by schools. Our joint BVA/RCVS statement issued today gives guidance to which veterinary surgeons would currently be considered key workers.

In the challenging times ahead, small animal and equine vets will be critical in maintaining the health and welfare of pets that are providing vital companionship to those in self-isolation, and in turn supporting the mental health of many vulnerable members of society. Maintaining animal welfare, in the current global pandemic however, does not equate to business as usual, although we must ensure some provision remains.

For this reason, we are continuing to lobby the UK government and the devolved administrations to ensure that all financial support packages must be fully accessible by all veterinary business and team members. We are also lobbying for veterinary businesses to be recognised as “business critical” so that in case of a wider lockdown, practices will be able to maintain some form of service to provide emergency care to all animals. This will ensure that animal welfare is protected, and that animal owners can be assured that they will be able to access vital emergency care.

I recognise that many members will be feeing anxious and frustrated, particularly due to the uncertain financial situation ahead. This is a challenge facing all of society, which is first and foremost a public health emergency - the profession plays a vital role in maintaining food supply, food safety and animal welfare, but it cannot be at the expense of undermining efforts to control this global pandemic.

We are in an unprecedented and fast-moving situation where we all have to play our part to keep each other and the country safe. I hope you will agree with me that we need to take this advice seriously and do whatever we can to mitigate against this public health emergency.

 

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