UK veterinary workforce has decreased by two-thirds since Brexit

Mar 17, 2022
Scott is the partner responsible for looking after the firm’s healthcare and medical sector clients. Scott also specialises in advising small businesses.
Vet Shortage

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has found that due to Brexit and Covid-19 travel restrictions there has been a drop in new EU registrants coming to work in the UK of more than two thirds over the past two years. Recent statistics published by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) found that 1132 EU registrants came to work in the UK in 2019 compared to only 364 in 2021. This decrease is most likely due to the ending of free movement and the impact the pandemic has had on travel.


What affect will this have across the veterinary sector?

The BVA has warned that this significant increase could have a knock-on effect across the whole sector, specifically, public health and international trade. The UK’s veterinary workforce is very reliant on EU registrants. RCVS data from 2021 has shown that 29 per cent of the total veterinary workforce graduated in an EU member state. Further data has suggested that almost half of new registrants (48%) graduated in the EU compared to 42% in the UK.

However, separate statistics demonstrate that there has been an increase in demand for veterinary certification of animal products being exported to the EU. Furthermore, the UK’s Animal and Plant Health Agency found that food-related export health certificates applications increased by 1255 per cent from 2020 (22,990) to end of 2021 (288,558).

These figures have most likely underestimated the additional workload on vets with the data excluding orders of:

  • Equine
  • Pet certificates
  • Germplasm
  • Movements to Northern Ireland
  • Multiple certificates in one request

These figures also fail to display the additional cost incurred to businesses under these new requirements.


What measures are being implemented to mitigate this issue?

The government and the veterinary profession have said that they are monitoring this situation. They are also planning to introduce measures to mitigate against any shortages. These measures include modifying language testing requirements. Opening more vet schools and course places to increase the number of homegrown vets. However, the BVA have said that there is not a quick solution to solve these problems due to the impact of Brexit, Covid, and an increase in pet ownership.


How can we help?

At Hawsons our dedicated team of vet accountants offer specialist accountancy and taxation services to veterinary practices, utilising our in-depth knowledge and experience in the sector.

We have extensive experience of providing clients with the required support and advice from the initial acquisition and investment structures, reducing future taxation and enhancing tax relief opportunities.

Free initial meeting

Scott Sanderson

Partner, Sheffield

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