Wednesday 23rd March 2022

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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There are a lot of different veterinary roles besides general practice—we have to have official veterinarians as part of our products of animal origin process, and in abattoirs. Working with the royal college, we have changed the required language standard, which has resulted in more coming in. We have successfully negotiated with the Home Office to get this profession listed as a shortage profession, which has brought more in. We are also consulting and working in a whole range of ways to get more veterinarians working in this country.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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My Lords, the reasons for the current shortage of vets are complex, but involve the three Rs—recruitment, retention and, particularly, encouraging returners back to work after career breaks. With reference to recruitment to veterinary schools, nearly one-quarter of veterinary graduates produced by UK vet schools are actually overseas students, mainly Americans, who are unlikely to devote their careers to strengthening the UK workforce but whose high overseas fees are essential to make up for the underfunding of the UK student core grant. Will the Minister press the Government to raise the core funding for band A veterinary students in the UK, which would displace the need to take overseas students and immediately increase very substantially the number of UK students undergoing veterinary training in our universities?

Lord Benyon Portrait Lord Benyon (Con)
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We should all be very grateful to the noble Lord for his involvement in creating the new courses across a number of different universities. I shall certainly take his suggestion away and make sure that, across government, there is an understanding of the very real need to get more veterinary surgeons in this country trained in our universities and functioning in our veterinary profession.