The president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has called for urgent reform of the “not fit for purpose” Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Speaking at the association’s annual Westminster dinner, Dr Anna Judson said the act is in need of urgent modernisation.

She said the act, which was created in 1966, is outdated and not fit for purpose.

She said the act “fails to embrace the full potential of the veterinary team” and that it is inappropriate that only individual vets and vet nurses can be held accountable for business decisions that can directly impact animal health and welfare.

Judson also called for the title of ‘vet nurse’ to be recognised in law to reflect that vet nurses are highly qualified and bring a wealth of experience to practice teams.

“My presidential theme ‘a profession for everyone’ reflects my belief that we must build a thriving profession, one that attracts and keeps our people and incorporates the whole veterinary team,” she said.

“We simply cannot achieve this on the foundations of the current, outdated legislation.”

BVA manifesto

Judson also highlighted a number of areas for reform outlined in the BVA’s manifesto for animals, vets and public health.

These include the case for overhauling the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991; the need to tackle key animal welfare concerns after the abandonment of the Kept Animals Bill; and the importance of securing permanent access to veterinary medicines in Northern Ireland.

The BVA there is serious threat to Northern Ireland’s access to veterinary medicines as a result of leaving the European Union.

The anticipated loss of over half of all veterinary medicines in December 2025 will have “serious and far-reaching consequences for the veterinary profession”, as well as the farming and equine sectors and public health, the association said.

Judson acknowledged the UK government’s progress on addressing the issue with the recent announcement of a new working group tasked with urgently finding a permanent solution.

However, she highlighted the need for the veterinary perspective to be included in this process for it to succeed. 

Judson’s speech also acknowledged the challenges continuing to face the profession in 2024, including the ongoing threat of avian influenza (bird flu) and emerging diseases such as bluetongue.