Bill to limit vet practice ownership closer to becoming law in Republic
A bill which will bar anyone who is not a vet from owning a veterinary practice in the Republic has passed its second stage in the Dáil.
The Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill which would prohibit the ownership of veterinary practices by lay persons, will now go before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine in September.
The proposed legislation was brought forward by Fianna Fáil Deputy Jackie Cahill with the aim of shutting a ‘loophole’ in the current legislation that has allowed for corporate ownership of a number of veterinary practices in Ireland.
Deputy Cahill said: “I am delighted to receive cross-party support for the amendments I am proposing to the Veterinary Practice Act. For me, there are three main reasons that it is important we ensure that vet practices remain in the ownership of licenced veterinary practitioners.
“Firstly, the Veterinary Council of Ireland must be able to regulate vet practices, and that is only possible when these practices are in the ownership of licenced vets We must retain this very important regulation over the sector for animal welfare reasons, among others.
“Secondly, we need to ensure that the profession is attractive for young vets to enter into. This will not be the case if there are no clear career profession paths for young people to be attracted to the profession.
“Finally, in countries such as the UK, where we have seen the corporate structure take hold, we have seen the cost of services increase while the quality dramatically reduces. For animal welfare standards, we cannot allow a situation to develop where it is almost impossible to get a vet during the night.”
According to the(RCVS, 51% of veterinary practices in the UK are now owned by six companies, three of which are private equity-owned.
Ian Moore, the founder of Lagan Valley Vets recently flagged his concerns around the subject with NI Veterinary Today, insisting private practices could provide clients with a better experience.
He explained: “There has been a historic neglect of a work life balance in veterinary practice, and now that vets are wanting that balance I worry that the way in which practices have been set up and ran for so long is not sustainable given the demands of modern practice.
“Looking forward as corporates purchase more and more veterinary practices I see this as a great opportunity for privately run practices to push forward. I believe independent practices can provide a much more personal, individual and tailored experience for both clients and animals and indeed can provide a more relaxed work life for the staff who work there.”
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