In the week that the National Office of Animal Health has revealed significantly greater levels of pessimism in the animal medicines industry over the impact of Brexit on public health and food production, the BVA also reports that the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) has prevented Defra from consulting the profession over the predicted shortage of veterinary surgeons post-Brexit.

NOAH's third Brexit Barometer found that where in the last report, 17% of its members reported feeling 'very' or 'somewhat pessimistic', that figure has now risen to 32%.

Meanwhile, the National Audit Office has revealed in its 'Progress in Implementing EU Exit' report that Defra has been prevented from consulting with the veterinary market by DExEU.

The report states that Defra is one of the government departments most affected by EU Exit and looks in detail at four of Defra’s main workstreams, including ‘import of animals and animal products’ and ‘exports of animals and animal products’.

In an accompanying press release, the National Audit Office notes that in a no-deal scenario there will be a significant increase in certificates needing to be processed by veterinary surgeons. It says: "Without enough vets, consignments of food could be delayed at the border or prevented from leaving the UK. Defra intended to start engaging with the veterinary industry in April 2018, but has not been permitted to do so and now plans to launch an emergency recruitment campaign in October to at least meet minimum levels of vets required. It plans to meet any remaining gaps through the use of non-veterinarians to check records and processes that do not require veterinary judgement."

The BVA says it has previously outlined concerns about the potential for diluting veterinary certification, and is calling on the Government to fully engage with the veterinary profession before making any changes that could impact the UK’s ability to trade animal products safely and in line with high animal welfare standards.

The RCVS has also weighed in. Amanda Boag, RCVS President, said: "We are glad to see the National Audit Office report recognises that a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario would be likely to reduce the supply of EU veterinary surgeons to the UK and cause uncertainty regarding the status of those EU veterinary surgeons who are currently living and working in the UK and that this would have a particularly serious impact on necessary veterinary work in public health and certification. 

"We continue to engage with Defra and, like the BVA, we want to emphasise the essential need for Government to consult with the profession to ensure their plans meet requirements, including maintenance of the high veterinary standards for which the UK is known. We also want to highlight the importance and value of the veterinary profession in other areas of society including caring for pets, horses and farm animals as well as research, education and industry, and emphasise the impact of workforce shortages on all sectors."