The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has sounded the alarm on the outdated Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, urging swift modernisation and reform to ensure improved animal welfare.

BVA President Dr. Anna Judson addressed the veterinary community, MPs, and peers at the association’s annual Westminster dinner, highlighting the shortcomings of the existing legislation.

Dr. Anna Judson expressed concerns about the lack of accountability for veterinary practices under the current legislation, describing it as “not fit for purpose.” Emphasising the need for urgent reform, she stressed that the act, created almost 60 years ago, is inadequate for addressing the complexities of modern veterinary practices. The current legal framework only holds individual vets and vet nurses accountable for business decisions, neglecting the broader impact on animal health and welfare.

Recognition for Vet Nurses and Legislative Overhaul

Dr. Judson called for the recognition of the title ‘vet nurse’ in law, acknowledging the significant role they play in veterinary teams. Highlighting the limitations of the existing legislation, she emphasised the importance of embracing the full potential of the veterinary team for a thriving profession. The call for reform aligns with Dr. Judson’s presidential theme, advocating for “a profession for everyone.”

In addition to the urgent need for veterinary legislation reform, Dr. Anna Judson outlined key areas for reform in BVA’s manifesto for animals, vets, and public health. With a general election on the horizon, the manifesto addresses pressing issues, including an overhaul of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, resolution of unresolved animal welfare concerns, and securing permanent access to veterinary medicines in Northern Ireland.

Addressing the imminent threat to Northern Ireland’s access to veterinary medicines post-Brexit, Dr. Judson acknowledged the UK Government’s efforts in forming a working group to find a permanent solution. However, she stressed the importance of including the veterinary perspective in the process to ensure a successful outcome.

Challenges Facing the Veterinary Profession in 2024

Dr. Anna Judson highlighted ongoing challenges for the veterinary profession in 2024, including the persistent threat of avian flu and emerging diseases like Bluetongue virus 3. She also addressed the Competition and Markets Authority’s review of veterinary services and expressed concerns about the negative impact of the XL Bully ban on pet owners, animal charities, and vet teams.

The call for urgent reform and modernisation of veterinary legislation reflects the BVA’s commitment to enhancing animal welfare, recognising the evolving needs of veterinary practices and the vital contributions of the entire veterinary team. As the profession faces various challenges, the BVA continues to advocate for effective legislation to safeguard animal health and welfare in the UK.