Why Visa Restrictions Are Strangling Vet Practices

Historically, Veterinary Surgeons have been in short supply in the UK. As a result these roles have long been on the ‘shortage occupation’ list, allowing qualified professionals from outside the European Union to gain entry visas to the UK to fulfill vacancies in these roles.

Then, in October 2011 the UK government accepted a proposal from the independent Migration Advisory Commission to remove several professions (including Veterinary Surgeons) from the ‘shortage occupation’ list; Visa applications were no longer granted on the basis of veterinary qualifications.

The result has been to reduce the number of veterinary professionals from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa entering the UK. Traditionally the influx of staff from the southern hemisphere has boosted the locum sector of the industry and proven to be an invaluable resource for surgeries, particularly during the summer months. With the changes in visa regulations, suddenly a key staffing resource dried up, leaving surgeries desperately hunting for alternative solutions. Whilst the opportunity is now wide open to EU counterparts to fill positions in the UK, that doesn’t seem to have happened, leaving a big gap in the locum market.

In addition to man-hours and working practice flexibility, the presence of visiting professionals brought wide-ranging experience including farm and large animal knowledge.

Recently an article in the Daily Mail highlighted growing concerns over a shortage of British veterinary staff qualified in the area of farm animal medicine. The fear is that a lack of suitably experienced professionals will leave the UK paralysed in the event of another major disease outbreak. Additionally, proposed epidemic and disease prevention plans designed around animal welfare strategy will be difficult to implement. Such plans will inevitably be labour intensive, requiring additional qualified professionals to oversee and monitor them. Previously there would have been a ‘top-up’ pool of non-EU veterinary professionals to call on.

It isn’t only the large animal community feeling the pinch. Many practices have reported experiencing issues finding their own locum cover for their busy periods and during the summer months when holiday cover is required. Surgeries are finding their qualified staff has a higher expectation of work/life balance, with lighter out of hour’s schedules. As such, the demand for locums is growing and will continue to do so over the coming years.

Undoubtedly the idea behind the removal of Veterinary Surgeons from the ‘shortage occupation’ list was a noble act designed to reserve opportunity for homegrown talent. However, the knock-on effect has been to place increased pressure on a significant portion of the animal care community. With social and government focus being increasingly centered around the need for a higher degree of animal care, perhaps now is an excellent opportunity for the ‘shortage list’ to be reviewed once more.


Accessed 23rd May 2014

Accessed 23rd May 2014

Accessed 23rd May 2014

If you would like to view the full article, please visit; 


Laura joins the Nurse Recruitment team

Laura joined A1 Locums in December 2016, initially working with our administration team. Laura joins the team after working in Cyprus with Tui Travel.  She enjoys the challenge of placing applicants as well as talking to the practices.   She is passionate about people, remaining professional at all times.

Laura is very family orientated and is married to Raalf and a mother to Jaad, aged 2. She has three cats, Daisy, Jessie and Snookie, who travelled all the way back from Cyprus on a flight to Paris and then on a Eurostar to London.  They are now well and safe and enjoying the English countryside.

We are pleased to welcome Laura into fold and her new position as a trainee recruiter for the nurses department working with Anne Mcmanus.


Clemency joins the Veterinary Department

Clemency joined us in November 2016, having studied at Oxford Media & Business School, where she took an Executive PA Diploma. Part of her work experience was working in London with Tiger Recruitment, recruiting PA and administrators.  As a result of this, Clemency has now decided to follow her career aspirations with A1 Locums.

In her leisure time she enjoys eventing, walking the dogs and continuing to practice in Sports Therapy. In 2015, Clemency did a week’s work placement at Hartbury University on the equine Therapy yard, which engaged her knowledge of sports therapy and allowed her to apply this to horses.  She also loves Rugby and cooking for dinner parties

Clemency joins Clare and Sophie in the Vet Department.


Sophie is off to South Africa

In February 2017 I will be swapping my A1 Gilet for hiking boots again for 3 weeks. This year I am off to work for the Wildlife ACT, they look after 5 project sites across Zululand. Africa has over 400 known endangered animal species. Tracking and monitoring of endangered species is a critical step in the conservation of these animals. Wildlife ACT provide a free tracking and monitoring service to game reserves that can no longer manage or fund their monitoring projects. The game reserve I have chosen is Manyoni Game Reserve which lies within the Msunduzi Valley in Northern Zululand. The reserves 17 land owners dropped their fences in 2004 to create a large free roaming Big 5 area. The WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project was conducted for the formation of the reserve back in 2005.

The main focus for the game reserve is the monitoring of African Wild Dogs, Cheetah, Elephant and Lion. Volunteering and education against canned hunting and trophy hunting has become a big part of my travelling to South Africa, following my 3 month trip back in 2015. It will be the first time in the Zululand region; I am really looking forward to the work and being able to go over to St Lucia and Sodwana Bay for some snorkelling! After 2 weeks at Wildlife ACT, the fun begins with a week in Kruger National Park. The plan is to drive it from the South to the North in a week to see all the diversity of the flora and fauna as well as the difference in animal and bird life. I am lucky enough to be travelling with Kimberly, a lady from Australia who is looking to set up her own rehabilitation centre in Aus. We are looking forward to some local food and the occasion cocktail! Who knows Australia might be on the cards for 2018!!

See more of our team



Dogs for Good

For the last few years, A1 Locums have donated the money they would have spent on Christmas cards to various charities. This year we chose ‘Dogs for Good’, which helps with some amazing life changing solutions for many people.

We wanted to share with you a letter we received and how our money will help to support an assistance dog and give practical support to a family.


Anne at RVC January 2017

RVC Careers Fair

We had a great evening on Campus at the RVC Careers Fair, North Mymms  yesterday.

So good to see so many of the vets and to meet new faces.

Thank you for inviting us and we look forward to working with you in the future.


A1 Locums Graduate of the Year 2016

laura_hagstonWell done to Laura in achieving such excellent results and winning the A1 Locums award for 2016.

Laura graduated from Harper Adams University with a first class honours degree and is currently covering a locum maternity role Wicstun Veterinary group in Market Weighton, Yorkshire, which is a mixed practice. Her plan is to save up and eventually travel and work abroad, potentially in Australia. Laura would like to do some work with wild animals, or work on ‘neuter and release’ programme, whilst travelling. In her final year at Harpers, she was course rep, enjoying organizing events for special veterinary students.

Her main passion is nursing and she is now surgical nursing and she has commented that being scrubbed up is one of her favourite jobs as a veterinary nurse.

As a student Laura was a highly motivated and dedicated student, very popular with her peers and staff. Her dissertation was titled ‘Investigation into whether the provision of post-operative care information to clients at the time of patient admission benefits the patients aftercare’.