Workforce Summit to help solve current workforce issues - Veterinary Practice
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Workforce Summit to help solve current workforce issues

A Workforce Summit convened by the RCVS and involving stakeholders from across the veterinary sector met this week to discuss potential solutions to some of the key workforce issues currently confronting the veterinary sector in the UK

The Workforce Summit convened by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) took place at the Royal College of Surgeons of England on Tuesday 30 November under the auspices of the RCVS ViVet innovation project, encouraging those who took part to use “design thinking” to identify the issues and ways of addressing them, and distilling these ideas into solutions that are viable, scalable and would impact both the professions and the public in a positive way.

Delegates from across the veterinary sector attended the event including representatives of veterinary and veterinary nursing associations, government, employers, charities and veterinary and veterinary nursing educators.

RCVS CEO, Lizzie Lockett, said: “It’s clear that there are a number of workforce issues affecting the professions, such as high vacancy rates that employers are struggling to fill and a resultant increase in pressure on the professions in terms of caseload and hours worked, together with an increase in the number of people choosing to leave the professions.

“While many of these issues are long-standing and due to complex and multifactorial reasons, the scale of the problem has been exacerbated by three things: the UK’s exit from the EU and the impact this has had on overseas registrants; the ongoing impact of the pandemic in areas such as staff absence and burnout; and an increase in demand for veterinary services.

“We are delighted that so many colleagues were able to join us at the Summit. Its focus was not to dwell on the problems but to find achievable solutions by looking at how we can improve recruitment, retention and return.”

Since announcing the event earlier this autumn, the RCVS has been conducting qualitative and quantitative research in order to gather data on the scale and nature of the workforce issues.

The two preliminary research reports produced ahead of the meeting – dedicated to the veterinary surgeon and veterinary nursing workforces respectively – can be downloaded from the Summit page on the RCVS website.

At the Summit itself, delegates were split into groups and asked to identify solutions on six topics highlighted as priorities from the feedback of the vets and nurses who engaged with the preliminary research:

  • Readiness for work – encompassing the training and education for vet and vet nursing students
  • Work-life balance
  • Workplace culture
  • Client interaction
  • Career development
  • Return to work for those who have left either the clinical arm of the profession or the profession entirely

A report of the day will be published in due course and an action plan, which will include commitment from a range of stakeholders, will follow. There will be further opportunities for members of the professions to engage with the process.  

Speaking at the close of the meeting, RCVS President Kate Richards, commented: “The connections that we have with each other as veterinary professionals – through our dedication to animal health and welfare, our vital role in public health and protection, the trust placed in us day-in, day-out by the public – those connections have sparkled through today’s discussions.

“We can’t change what brought us to this particular moment, but I now feel confident that we have the beginning of a roadmap to address and mitigate the issues currently facing the profession. It won’t be quick or easy, and there are many factors and circumstances that aren’t within our control, but thanks to you, we have a direction of travel and a sense of how to get there.”

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