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Petition started for minimum standards of support for new graduates to help mental health

A petition has been set up by a Veterinary Graduate to urge the RCVS to set minimum standards of support for new graduates to help mental health.

Matthew Erskine, from Inverness, has set up the petition for the new standards and is urging the RCVS to fast track the creation of a set of minimum standards that practices must provide to their new graduates in order to adequately support them. He says: “I ask that the RCVS make substantial and material change in new graduate support, in order to prevent further mental health suffering and needless loss of life of some of the most compassionate and committed people in the profession.”

According to reports, Vets are 3-4 times more likely than the general population to die by suicide. Many reasons and work related factors have been associated with this statistic but, despite efforts, it has not decreased. A particularly difficult and vulnerable period within a vet’s career has been highlighted to be as a new or recent graduate and making the transition from University to clinical practice.


Matthew hopes that if the petition is successful, that it will result in the following recommendations:

  • Create an active and purposeful mental health working group or committee within the RCVS to tackle what should be the most important matter to them, the health of the profession. 
  • Create a minimum set of standards for supporting new graduates that must be met and would either be incorporated into the Practice Standards Scheme or the Code of Professional Conduct.
  • Have new graduate representatives, who know about and/or have experienced the issues incorporated into the RCVS. 

Matthew, who is a graduate from Edinburgh University said: ‘I graduated in 2015 as a veterinary surgeon and joined a corporate veterinary group who had established a strong and supportive new graduate program. This program gave me a lot of the much needed support which other new graduates do not receive however I still recognised what a tough and sudden transition it was from being in university to working in clinical practice.

“During my time at university I knew of at least 5 students, across all of the veterinary schools in the UK, who committed suicide which is a horrifying statistic in its own right. I attempted to improve mental health provision for students in partnership with Edinburgh Vet School and the Association of Veterinary Students who have always been very supportive and interested in their student’s mental health. It severely frustrates me to find the veterinary profession nationally has not taken swifter and more meaningful steps to address the mental health issues within the new graduate community. Every year that passes without change, or simply discussion panels, puts more lives at risk, a lot of whom are my friends and colleagues. That is why I have created this petition, to urge faster and stronger changes in order to protect my colleagues and profession.”

You can find out more about the petition and sign it here:

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