The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its full review of the Shortage Occupation List and recommended that veterinary surgeons are added to it (page 82).

The Committee's decision to recommend the addition of vets to the list is seen as a major win for the RCVS and the BVA which together submitted evidence as part of the review, which began in autumn last year.

Professions on the list are prioritised for visas required to live and work in the UK. Employers wishing to hire professionals on the list are not required to complete the Resident Labour Market Test, meaning they don't have to advertise vacancies locally before offering the role to an employee from overseas.

The RCVS/BVA submission focused on the need for the UK immigration system to recognise that the veterinary workforce is already under capacity and that this problem is likely to be exacerbated after Brexit. This is due to the potential for increased demand for veterinary surgeons in areas such as export certification, and also the likelihood that fewer veterinary surgeons from the European Union will be joining the Register. It also reiterated the importance of veterinary surgeons in areas such as public health, food safety, disease surveillance and control, as well as education, research, clinical practice and animal welfare.

RCVS President Amanda Boag said: "We are very pleased to see that our submission, made with our colleagues at the BVA, has been welcomed by the Committee and that this recommendation will now be going to the key decision-makers at the Home Office for consideration. While we are still unaware of how the process of the UK leaving the EU will pan out, this is a very important step in ensuring the future security of the profession and mitigating against worsening  workforce shortages. 

"We would reiterate to the Government that the UK is currently reliant on overseas registrants to meet the demand for veterinary surgeons, with veterinary surgeons from the rest of the EU making up around 50% of new registrants each year.  By adding veterinary surgeons to the Shortage Occupation List, and therefore reducing the immigration requirements needed to live and work in the UK, the Government will be helping ensure vital veterinary work continues to be done particularly in areas such as food safety and public health."

Simon Doherty, BVA President, said: "MAC’s recommendation is a huge win for animal welfare and a resounding vote of confidence in the veterinary community and the multiple benefits it realises across the UK. We are absolutely delighted that the committee has heeded our calls and recognised the need to reinstate vets on the list to keep workforce supply and resilience high in the unpredictable times ahead."


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