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Government Vets

Welcome to the government vets’ blog

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Government Veterinary Services
Photo of Nigel Gibbens, Chief Veterinary Officer
Nigel Gibbens, Government Chief Veterinary Officer

Welcome to the government vets’ blog. This blog has been created to allow government vets to share their experiences and raise awareness of the important and varied roles we undertake. Government Veterinary Services (GVS) want to inspire veterinary graduates and vets in private practice to consider a career as a government veterinarian – there is no veterinary role that is wider in scope, impact and influence than that of a government vet. And of course, if you don’t want to work for us, you might need to work with us.

The blog forms part of the launch of the new Government Veterinary Services website, a portal for veterinarians to find out more about the work of Government vets. The website will be developed over the coming months, but includes links to our talent schemes, our unique competency framework and for those already working for us, provides access to a range of continuous development resources. For those interested in embarking on a career in GVS, the website includes a short video to give an idea of some of the roles available for vets in the Civil Service.

Vets have worked in government for more than 150 years, protecting the animals and people of the UK against disease threats, and helping to improve animal welfare. As a profession, we have moved on considerably over that time - Government Veterinary Services now consists of more than 600 professionals, while many more perform services on behalf of government.

Many of us are not originally from the UK, giving us strength in the diversity of our backgrounds and skills, whilst the whole of the Government Veterinary Services achieve the highest veterinary standards and professionalism. I am personally proud of this diversity and committed to ensuring that it is maintained and continues to enable us to deliver the wide range of jobs that we do, as well as building the best possible future relationship with the EU.

Government vets are employed in:

Being a government vet can offer the opportunity to make a difference at not just a local, but a national and sometimes even an international level. We investigate disease across the country, build close and valuable links with the farming community and agricultural industries, look after the animals of our armed forces and ensure food is safe.

There are also opportunities to influence policy-making on vital issues, such as our emergency response to notifiable disease outbreaks. This brings me on nicely to a subject that has been dominating my world in recent months – avian influenza.

Bird flu outbreaks

This is the first time the UK has experienced multiple outbreaks of avian influenza in such varied environments, affecting commercial poultry farms, back-yard flocks and game bird farms too. This has meant we’re communicating not only with farmers, but members of the public who keep a few chickens in their back garden, and also game bird producers, so a much larger audience than with previous disease outbreaks.

Despite this range of audiences, our key messages have remained the same – follow strict biosecurity practices to keep your birds safe and protect the national flock. You can find out more here.

Working for the Animal and Plant Health Agency on a notifiable disease outbreak such as this offers an opportunity to be at the front line protecting animal health and GB’s economy, as well as enabling our vets to use diagnostic and epidemiology skills. Meanwhile, we continue to combat bovine TB, respond to suspect reports of other notifiable disease and keep on supporting our animal by-products industry.

But these are just some of the possibilities working as a government vet can offer and I hope this blog will provide an insight into the huge range of possibilities that exist for veterinarians in Government. New blog posts from government vets across the community will be posted monthly, so take a look regularly for updates that I hope will be a source of inspiration.

As the Government’s Chief Vet, I’m thrilled that the new Government Veterinary Services has given us the opportunity to create a platform to demonstrate the important role we play in protecting the livelihoods of farmers, the health and welfare of their animals and public health across the country.

If you have any questions, please email us at

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  1. Comment by Philip Nash posted on

    The decision to designate high risk areas for avian flu in England only is a complete nonsense, as is the idea that there are no high risk areas at all in Wales and Scotland. Apparently if you are on the south side of the Bristol Channel it's all high risk and yet on the North side a few miles away (in Wales) you are not in a high risk area at all. Has anyone told the wild bird population? Why does the level of biosecurity depend on borders and politics. Why couldn't the three vets for the three countries agree a common position based on science.

  2. Comment by David Redwood posted on