About us

Government Veterinary Services supports public-sector veterinary professionals and promotes veterinary policy to other vets and the public.

Government vets provide an important service to the public, from disease control to safeguarding animal health and welfare. They work in a number of government departments, agencies, the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive.

The Government Veterinary Services (GVS) works to:

  • attract and retain talented individuals to the profession
  • improve the skills and capability of veterinary professionals across government
  • improve learning and development opportunities

All UK public sector vets are automatically members of GVS.

Our head of profession is Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer. She is supported by a board of senior veterinary managers from across central government departments and the devolved administrations.

Student placements

We provide a number of placements for graduate and undergraduate veterinary students. These are excellent opportunities to gain and develop practical experience in the broad range of veterinary roles in government.

Placements might include work in veterinary research, control of exotic and other high-risk diseases, veterinary forensics in animal welfare investigations and the delivery of safer food and other animal products to consumers.

You can express your interest by contacting us at gvs@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Extramural study placements for veterinary students

Veterinary students can apply for extramural study (EMS) placements with the at Animal and Plant Health Agency in the summer before the final 2 years of their studies (or years 5 to 6 for Cambridge students).

These placements usually last 1 week but a few sites offer a continuous 2-week placement combining a week in a lab, followed by a field team week.

All universities hold the latest version of the application form. Please email EMS@apha.gsi.gov.uk with your completed application form or if you want to request a form. See further information on EMS placements with APHA.

Your application will be considered against available dates and APHA locations.

Other veterinary students not in their final 2 years of study can also request a placement using this process. However, these requests will be considered and assessed separately depending on the circumstances.

Working for the Government Veterinary Service

Build a career as a Government VetThe role of a government vet is varied and rewarding, and we are always looking to recruit experienced professionals into the Civil Service. Opportunities include being on the ground, working with animals and keepers, carrying out research in animal welfare and public health, and informing future policy. Most new entrants typically have private-sector experience although roles are open to recent graduates as well. For some roles a postgraduate qualification is an advantage.

The Government Veterinary Services offer the chance to make a real difference – from protecting animals and the public from diseases, to championing our world-class welfare standards and supporting the growth of our food industry at home and abroad.

This scope gives government vets unparalleled professional experience, with excellent opportunities for progression. I would encourage ambitious veterinary students to look at the service for a rich and rewarding career.

Nigel Gibbens, Former UK Chief Veterinary Officer

Professional development

Professional development is an important aspect of a career in state veterinary medicine and we give regular updates to members, which include training opportunities, events, mentoring and talent schemes.

If you would like to be added to our mailing list or you would like more information, please contact gvs@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

The GVS Competence Framework supports the recruitment and development of our members.

Visit the GVS portal on Civil Service Learning, to find out more about our professional development opportunities.

Members can also read more from senior leaders and colleagues across the profession on the GVS blog.