Letter to the Editor: Veterinary inspections at borders after Brexit

Letter to the Editor: Veterinary inspections at borders after Brexit

Veterinary Ireland has expressed concern over the Government’s lack of preparedness for the provision of veterinary inspection services at our ports and/or borders in the event of Brexit.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine plan on supplementing their permanent Veterinary Inspectorate with private veterinary practitioners to meet the additional needs in the context of Brexit, yet there has been no meaningful engagement with Veterinary Ireland on the arrangements to be put in place.

The department has unilaterally sought to contract private veterinary practitioners for up to 40 hours per week to undertake portal inspection duties. This would have a hugely detrimental impact on the availability of veterinary services to our farming community and the public.

The department’s proposals would see private veterinary practitioners being removed from an already overstretched veterinary service serving the needs of the farming community and the public which includes the provision of 24-hour emergency care, into full-time positions at border inspection posts.

This would undermine the availability of veterinary services to the farming community and the public and would impact adversely on the ability of practices to deliver these services while undermining out-of-hours rotas for existing vets.

It is important to ensure that any arrangements put in place in the context of border inspection post duties do not impact negatively on the availability and capacity of farmed animal veterinary services across the country, and if possible, that whatever solution is arrived at will support such services.

The existing temporary veterinary inspector (TVI) model and agreement which allows for the engagement of private veterinary practitioners on a part-time basis would better meet the objectives of the department and vets in practice, whilst complementing the provision of veterinary services to the farming community and the public.

Veterinary Ireland has urged the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to enter into immediate and meaningful discussions on the most appropriate manner in which to meet the additional requirements that will arise in the context of Brexit.

-Dr David MacGuinness

Veterinary Ireland president, and

Finbarr Murphy

Veterinary Ireland chief executive

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