Scottish vets have been working 'incredibly hard' to keep animals healthy during difficult times.

British Veterinary Association president Justine Shotton this week praised celebrated the work of veterinary teams across Scotland, despite contending with multiple pressures in recent times.

In a speech to around 70 guests – many of them MSPs – at BVA’s Annual Scottish Dinner at the Scottish Parliament, Dr Shotton said that Scottish vets had kept animals healthy, protected public health and kept the food chain moving against a backdrop of Covid, Brexit and a recent surge in pet ownership.

“But we also need to acknowledge that this has come at a significant – and ultimately unsustainable – cost to the profession’s capacity and wellbeing," she cautioned. "If we are going to cope with ongoing and new or unforeseen challenges ahead, we need action now to improve recruitment, retention and rates of return to veterinary work, to ensure that all existing vets can feel supported, safe and rewarded in their careers, and to encourage future vets from all walks of life to follow in our footsteps.”

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She called on Scottish and UK governments, animal owners, the profession itself and vets of the future to take a range of actions to help create a 'flexible, resilient and future-proofed workforce.

Dr Shotton said that the profession’s 'resilience and dedication' had shone through in how vets had responded to and mitigated against recent disease outbreaks in Scotland and across the UK, including the Avian Influenza outbreak. She said that with disease control sitting within the scope of the proposed new Scottish Veterinary Service, it was important to make sure that systems collaborated closely with the rest of the UK and beyond, cautioning: “I don’t have to tell any of you around the room tonight that diseases and animal welfare problems don’t respect borders. It will therefore be critical that the new service has systems that collaborate and liaise with the rest of the UK, and beyond, on disease surveillance, data collection, and information sharing."