‘Scottish veterinary community must work together in challenging times ahead’

British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Simon Doherty used the association’s annual Scottish Dinner to urge veterinary professionals to work together to navigate the unpredictable times ahead.

He also asked guests to continue to support the BVA’s campaign for vets to be restored to the Shortage Occupation List.

He made the comments last night (Tuesday, May 21) addressing almost 90 guests at the Scottish Parliament, including the Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, MSPs, key representatives from animal health and welfare organisations, and colleagues from across the veterinary profession.

He said: “Vets have high levels of public trust in our insights and expertise, and strong connections with our colleagues, clients and the communities we serve.

In these uncertain times, it’s more crucial than ever that the veterinary community pulls together to navigate the difficult landscape ahead and continues to provide the best possible standards of care.

Doherty highlighted the BVA’s work keeping members and stakeholders informed about the potential challenges and opportunities Brexit presents for the veterinary workforce and animal welfare.

He also highlighted that non-UK EU vets make a considerable contribution to the Scottish workforce, with one in seven vets practising in Scotland qualified at an overseas university.

Doherty praised a range of projects that are underway to address recruitment and retention challenges in Scotland and ensure that vets have access to guidance and support at all stages of their careers.

He gave a special mention to the Scottish Veterinary Delivery Landscape Project and the Highland and Islands Veterinary Services Scheme, for its work ensuring vital services are available in remote communities.

Addressing chief veterinary officer Sheila Voas, Doherty acknowledged the case of BSE being confirmed on a farm in Scotland in October 2018, and congratulated government vets for their quick and calm response.

“One positive that we can take from this case is how it showed the strength of our robust surveillance systems, as vets and industry sprung quickly into action to identify the risk and appropriate precautionary measures in place,” he said.

Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, responded to the speech as BVA’s guest of honour.