Vets face ‘perfect storm’ of Covid, Brexit and lockdown pet boom

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Vets face ‘perfect storm
Image: Pixabay

Vets face ‘perfect storm’ of Covid, Brexit and lockdown pet boom in the UK.

During lockdown, the number of pets has soared by over 3 million. Vets are struggling and are said to be facing a “perfect storm”. Covid along with Brexit and an increase in the number of pets is hitting vets hard.

Many veterinary surgeries are struggling to keep up with demand and some have stopped taking on new animal patients. People are being encouraged to check they can register with a vet before adopting a new pet.

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The Vets Now pet emergency hospital’s Dr Lara Wilson has not seen the veterinary profession stretched so badly since she began her career. Speaking to The Independent she said: “The last time we had something like this was foot and mouth,”

“I don’t think anyone could have predicted a viral pandemic would result in a boost in pet numbers.”

According to the animal expert, Brexit has led to more staff vacancies in the sector. She commented: “Historically, the veterinary profession had just about enough vets,”


“Pre-Brexit and pre-Covid we were bumping along at quite a high stress level but just about where we needed to be. It was generally possible to recruit somebody else and we did have a constant stream of people coming from Europe into the country to work with us.

“That has dried up; with coronavirus nobody is moving and we have the complication of Brexit and those are mixed up together.”

Vets wanting to come to the UK have also been hit with new English language requirements. The level of English has been lowered though for vets entering the food sector.


James Russell is the senior vice president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA). “The government and Food Standards Agency (FSA) had cause in the summer to approach the Royal College council and ask them for a derogation to bring people into the country at a lower standard of English language to work in a supervised way in official control – so slaughterhouses essentially – as vets because they recognised we were at risk of not being able to fulfil those official controls” said Russell.

“That’s there to ensure the food that appears on Tesco’s shelves is safe to eat. When we are in a position where government and FSA are approaching the Royal College to say ‘we need to do something different here’ that, to me, points to saying we really are on a bit of a knife edge here.”

He went on to add: “What concerns me is that we are not at the top yet of demand in that sector. So as we get to the end of the grace period of exports into Northern Ireland, as we begin imposing import checks on goods coming into the country, both of those are going to put additional requirements on veterinary time and everyone we draw away into that has to come from somewhere.”


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Alex Glenn is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News. Formerly she worked in the NHS for 15 years until relocating to Spain in 2018. She loves the Spanish lifestyle, language and culture and spent several years learning Spanish before moving to Spain for a better quality of life. She has made her home in the mountains in Almeria, where she loves being part of a rural community that has a mix of both expats and Spanish residents. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, reading and exploring the area where she lives.

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