Lack of access to MIQ endangers vets and animals

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is calling on the Government to take action when it comes to prioritising access to MIQ spaces.

After sustained but unsuccessful lobbying to achieve a commitment from the Minister for COVID-19 Response to allocate at least two rooms per week for vets entering the country, NZVA is concerned that lack of action is jeopardising the well-being of vets and the animals they look after.

The fact that cricket players and rock stars are able to secure places in MIQ, often at short notice, demonstrates what the Government deems to be most important to the country.

"Earlier this year we were successful in achieving an additional 50 border exceptions for vets to enter the country. This was much welcomed to help mitigate the critical shortage of vets made worse due to border restrictions imposed because of COVID 19. We received excellent support from the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Minister of Agriculture", says Kevin Bryant, chief executive of NZVA.

It seems though that all this effort and support has been worthless as it has been near impossible for overseas vets to enter the country because they cannot secure spots in MIQ.

Meanwhile our vets are exhausted, working 24 / 7, some at breaking point and doing their best to meet patient needs including the demand for routine, emergency and afterhours work. The latest lockdown has further impacted the wellbeing of entire veterinary teams, particularly in Auckland.

"The postponement of routine procedures has long term implications, not only for animals with unplanned pregnancies and infectious disease risks for example, but also for our veterinary professionals who are doing their best to play catch up after lockdowns, despite not having fully resourced veterinary teams. On top of that there are urgent seasonal demands from the primary sector such as calving and lambing, and supporting educational requirements for veterinary students," says Dr. Helen Beattie, NZVA’s chief veterinary officer.

There are still many people trying to get into the country, including these new vets who are desperate to settle in New Zealand and bring with them their much- needed skills. While they wait to play the MIQ lottery, they're abandoning the idea of coming to New Zealand altogether and taking up job offers in other countries.

"We urgently need the Government’s help to resolve this issue", says Kevin Bryant.