Vet shortage causing border concerns

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

A vet shortage could lead to border delays for the food industry
A vet shortage could lead to border delays for the food industry
The Government has been warned that a no-deal Brexit scenario could result in food being delayed at borders due to a shortage of vets.

In a report from the National Audit Office (NAO), which outlined the progress being made on the UK’s exit from the EU, it warned that the food industry could be particularly damaged if no deal is agreed.

It said that “without a significant increase in the UK’s veterinary capacity, Defra will be unable to process the increased volume of export health certificates it expects if there is no deal”.

The NAO report stated there had been a delay in plans to increase vet numbers which could lead to problems down the line.

“To achieve the required capacity, Defra needed to provide the market with sufficient notice and certainty about the scale of the increased capacity required. It had programmed this work to start in April 2018 but, by September 2018, the Government had not yet authorised Defra ​[Department For Environment, Food & Rural Affairs] to start engaging publicly with the veterinary market.

“If there are not enough vets, consignments of food could be delayed at the border or prevented from leaving the UK. If there is still a significant likelihood of no deal being reached in October 2018, Defra is planning to launch an emergency recruitment campaign to bring capacity at least part-way towards the minimum level required. Defra told us it is confident that it will be able to fill any remaining gaps, for example through the use of non-veterinarians to check records and processes that do not require veterinary judgment.”

The NAO said that, under a no-deal resolution, Defra would have to introduce a UK equivalent for each of 1,400 different versions of the current EU certificates, and agree these with 154 different countries, in order to continue to export to them - something it believes it will be unable to do by March 2019.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning, environment secretary Michael Gove said “Defra was preparing for every eventuality”​ and there “won’t be food rotting or animals being destroyed by the side of the road”​.

Related news


Post your comment

We will not publish your email address on the website

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Follow us

Featured Events

View more


View more