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1 January 2019

Stevenson Calls on Tories to Act on Threat to Veterinary Surgeons

Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson has written to the UK Government urging action to avoid the threat posed to vets who are EU nationals working as Official Veterinarians monitoring standards in food safety and animal health and welfare by Westminster’s proposed post-Brexit immigration framework.

The UK Tory Government’s Immigration White Paper includes a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for some immigrants. At this level, many of the skilled roles vital to Scotland’s food and drink industries will be excluded.

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson said:

“This should not come as a surprise to the Conservative Government. Back in November 2017, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) warned that a £30,000 threshold for EU workers could lead to a near-total wipeout of veterinary surgeons in critical public health roles in UK slaughterhouses, with devastating consequences for UK trade.

“The UK veterinary workforce relies heavily on EU graduates. The consequences of a loss of even a small percentage of the workforce would be huge. Statistics from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) reveal the dependence of the UK on non-UK EU vets. In 2016, the proportion of new registrants in that year from non-UK EU vet schools was 47%.”

A news release issued by the BVA on 8 November 2017 states the following with regards to abattoir vets in the UK:

“Veterinary surgeons from the EU make a particularly significant contribution to critical roles in public health with estimates suggesting that 95% of Official Veterinarians working in abattoirs are from overseas and the large majority of these are from the EU. Reducing the veterinary presence in slaughterhouses would increase the risk of food fraud, provide the potential for animal welfare breaches and remove a level of public health reassurance.”

Mr Stevenson added:

“It is clear this is yet another threat to Scottish agriculture from the London Tory Government and I have written to the Home Secretary requesting that he take account of the expert advice from the BVA and think again about these proposals for the sake of the industry.”

Stewart Stevenson
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