The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has written to the Government urging for veterinary practices to be included in the support measures for businesses affected by Covid-19.
On Tuesday 17 March, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £350 billion package of measures – including rates reliefs and grants to support retail and hospitality businesses affected by the coronavirus. However, veterinary practices have so far not been included in the scope for this support, despite the fact that they will also be entering a period of significant financial difficulty while they continue to provide “vital care and treatment to animals while contending with staff shortages and reduced turnover”.
The BVA has stated, “Vets are putting stringent measures in place to keep their services running safely for everyone, as well as offering advice over the phone and making arrangements for emergency care and treatment for pets if their owners are self-isolating.”
BVA, which represents over 18,000 vets across the UK, sent letters to key government departments and their counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, calling for veterinary practices to be recognised as ‘business critical’ on account of the “essential services they provide that protect animal health and welfare, public health and wellbeing”.
The letter also notes the important role that pets have to play in providing companionship to their owners, particularly elderly and vulnerable people who may feel increasingly lonely in the months ahead.
Daniella Dos Santos, BVA President, said, “While BVA welcomes the scale of this response and the promise of an economic lifeline for many businesses, we are extremely concerned that these measures don’t currently extend to the veterinary profession. Veterinary practices are a mainstay in our communities providing a critical service to keep the UK’s pets healthy as well as supporting public health and wellbeing.
“With so many people self-isolating in the coming weeks and months, we can’t underestimate the important role that pets have to play in providing companionship and helping to boost their owners’ wellbeing. However, it is a sad fact that many practices may have no option but to close their doors for good if they aren’t eligible for the same support that’s rightly being rolled out to other businesses.
“We are asking for an assurance from governments across the UK that veterinary practices will also be included in the scope for support and recognised as a business critical service. Veterinary practices make such a valuable contribution to health and wellbeing at the heart of communities, so they need to be offered the same safety net that other businesses have been promised in the unpredictable times ahead.”
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