How is Scotland tackling staffing shortages in the veterinary sector?

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)  has published a plan to minimise vet shortages in Scotland. 

It has warned that something needs to change to avoid a state of crisis. 

Why is retention an issue in the veterinary sector? 

Several factors have been cited as major contributors to people leaving the profession, including:

  • Spike in pet adoptions during Covid-19 = higher demand for vets
  • Difficulties introduced by Brexit for vets from overseas 
  • Increase in verbal abuse from clients
  • Poor work/life balance 

The RCVS report highlights that the lack of flexible working arrangements is one of the main catalysts for people leaving the veterinary sector. 

Mary-Jo Grant, a vet living on the Black Isle, told the BBC: “We’re not the kind of people who will do the 9 to 5. We will stay back. We will burn out.”

To help drive staffing levels, the Dean of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) will open a new school of veterinary medicine in Aberdeen. 

This move will see the introduction of four new courses, not available anywhere else in the UK. 

SRUC academic director Jamie Newbold said: “These new courses add to SRUC’s strength and depth of provision in animal welfare and veterinary science as we move towards becoming an enterprise university at the heart of our sustainable natural economy.”

What about veterinary nurses? 

The RCVS has also proposed that the responsibilities of those in veterinary nurse roles be widened to ease pressures on vets.

However, it acknowledged that dissatisfaction levels within veterinary nursing are ironed out first. 

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