The impact of Brexit on vets in Wales

Posted on July 19, 2016 by Neil Paton

Political activity can seem slightly distant from our day-to-day lives, but the referendum on our participation in the European Union (EU) was a democratic exercise that impacted on all of us. It will impact on all of us professionally and for many, as in my case through being married to a European citizen, personally.

The results of the EU referendum

Friday 24 June was a day with a new political landscape – one of change and uncertainty; one in which the people of Wales demonstrated its desire to leave the EU. Over the weeks that followed the responses by the leaders of political parties changed it seemed on the hour, every hour, and it is only now that the country as a whole is starting to see what the short term future might be.

Providing leadership for BVA members

Examining a sheepBVA made a decision at last summer’s Council meeting not to take a position on whether the United Kingdom should leave or remain but gave honest appraisals of the changes that would follow after an exit. See the BVA briefing document on the EU referendum (53 KB PDF).

However, it is now appropriate that BVA should work with all stakeholders providing leadership on many areas of interest to our members. In Wales this role falls to the members of the BVA Welsh Branch Council.

One of our strengths as a profession is our truly global outlook. This, in Wales, is best exemplified by the countries from which many of our colleagues have come to contribute to the health and welfare of animals in Wales.

We have EU citizens working in practice, in abattoirs as farm managers and in government, and BVA recognises the value that these people bring to Wales. With many of our colleagues feeling uncertain about their future in Wales, BVA President Sean Wensley and I wrote to the Cabinet Secretary to ask her to seek reassurance that the right to live and work in Wales of professional vets and vet nurses would be protected.

Representing vets in Wales

National Assembly for WalesBrexit will have other impacts on the profession and these will become apparent over the next weeks, months and years. We will be working with members of our profession through the online forum where you can detail issues that arise, which BVA Welsh Branch can then discuss with Welsh Government.

BVA Welsh Branch is committed through its council members and Officer team to working with all stakeholders in already existing committees, such as the Animal Welfare Network Wales and the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea subgroup, and any newly formed committees to make the best of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

The future of veterinary education in Wales will also be affected by Brexit. There have been plans to strengthen the provision in Wales through collaborations between Aberystwyth University and the Royal Veterinary College. Welsh Branch recognises the potential value of this collaboration based on the hub of veterinary excellence developing at Aberystwyth (alongside the risks), and will work to help develop a sustainable model for delivery of research and teaching relevant to Wales in the face of changes to the research and higher education sectors as a result of leaving the EU.

I know our members are concerned with issues of workforce problems, the impact on the welfare of animals in Wales, disease control through national programmes such as bovine TB eradication, and many more which our members will make us aware of in the future.

In response to Brexit the Cabinet Secretary has convened a stakeholder group to discuss issues. BVA Welsh Branch is represented on this group and will use this platform to represent the profession in Wales.

BVA Welsh Branch is committed to protecting the health and welfare of all animals in Wales, and supporting the interests of the profession is the best way to achieve this. We recognise that Brexit will bring challenges and opportunities to the profession and irrespective of our personal voting, we are committed to working in partnership with all animal keepers in Wales to make the very best of the future, come what may.

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Neil Paton

Written by Neil Paton

BVA Welsh Branch Past President

Lecturer in Farm Animal Health and Production – Royal Veterinary College

Technical Director of Animal Health and Welfare Wales – Gwaredu BVD