Farmers and animal health professionals have hailed a committee’s recommendation for vets to be reinstated on the Shortage Occupation List.
The Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommends to the Home Office that vets should be restored to the list after being removed in 2011.
Reinstating would address concerns about capacity, meeting future demand and making it easier to recruit into the profession.
The committee said it made its recommendation as it was 'clear' from the evidence submitted that the veterinary profession is facing 'significant recruitment difficulties'.
Responding to the news, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) described the move as a “huge win for animal welfare and a resounding vote of confidence in the veterinary community”.
BVA, which represents over 18,000 vets in the UK, had been running a campaign for vets to be restored to the list to help safeguard against a future crisis in workforce capacity.
In its submission to the committee, produced jointly with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), it highlighted the high proportion of EU vets working in the UK.
It also raised concerns that an already stretched veterinary workforce could struggle to cope with increased demand for some services after Brexit.
The call was supported by Defra, who made their own submission to the committee on behalf of vets.
Around 95 per cent of the vets carrying out public health work and animal welfare monitoring in abattoirs hail from overseas, predominantly the EU.
The veterinary industry has also raised concerns that demand for certification and health testing services could spiral in the event of a no deal Brexit, placing significant pressures on the workforce.
The Home Office will now consider and respond to MAC’s recommendations.