Many sectors in the UK are being hit by a talent drought, and the vet industry is no exception. We examine the reasons for the vet shortage and what we can do to resolve the crisis.
Why is there a vet shortage?
Demand outstrips supply
The pandemic pet boom means more animals in need of treatment, but there are not enough vets to treat them, meaning overworked vets and oversubscribed practices are having to turn clients away.
The Great Resignation
Many vets are joining the post-COVID “Great Resignation” and quitting the profession, either over increased stress during the pandemic, pay, or wellbeing issues.
Now that Britain has left the EU, we no longer have the option of filling gaps in our homegrown talent with large numbers of workers from Europe. New EU vets registering to work in the UK are down to 20 per month from 80-100 before Brexit.
Vets needed for EU exports
Another impact of Brexit is that many animal-based food products now need Export Health Certificates signed by a vet before export to the EU. Many vets are now working in this area instead of in typical practices.
What can be done to solve the vet shortage?
With the EU largely out of the picture, we need to increase the numbers of UK vet graduates by encouraging more people to study veterinary medicine.
Another important focus needs to be retaining veterinary professionals who are thinking of leaving the sector. Incentivising them to stay will mean more than perks and bonuses. The vet industry needs to make mental health and wellbeing for vets a real priority.
At a time when vets are overwhelmed with patients, this could be harder than ever, but it’s a necessity if we’re to resolve the UK’s growing vet shortage.