Transparency key for profession, says VMG president

Transparency key for profession, says VMG president

The finding of the Competition and Market Authority review of the veterinary sector show there is a need for greater transparency, Veterinary Management Group President Miles Russell has said.

He spoke out after the CMA confirmed it would launch a formal investigation into the veterinary market after identifying “multiple concerns” in an initial review, including that pet owners may be overpaying for treatments and medicines.

“As the association representing many of those in veterinary leadership roles, we support this call,” said the president.

“Greater transparency will give consumers easier access to clear information about what they’re paying for, why it costs what it does and the ownership of their veterinary practice – and this is to be welcomed.

“The formal market investigation now planned by the CMA will take time so, in the meantime, we urge all veterinary practices to take steps to increase transparency. This means reviewing how they communicate the price of their services and drugs to their clients. They could, for instance, post the prices of standard procedures and commonly used drugs on their website and support their teams in being more open to discussing costs and treatment options. They should also clearly display the ownership of their practice so that consumers can make an informed decision about the practice they wish to use.”

He continued: “I’m sure the whole veterinary sector supports the CMA finding that its current regulatory framework is not fit for purpose. As part of the process of renewing it, we need all veterinary businesses to be registered and we should work together to define a set of core minimum standards that all practices must adhere to. Most of the standards are already in place via the voluntary Practice Standards Scheme, which is currently being updated.

“A greater emphasis on transparency should also be an opportunity to help give consumers a better understanding of the many years of training and advances in drugs and equipment which ensure that the UK’s highly qualified and hard-working veterinary professionals are able to deliver an ever-higher standard of care to pets. Too many veterinary staff are leaving the sector because they are exhausted by the constant pressure, which can lead to compassion fatigue and burnout.

“If we can work together to deliver greater transparency and an updated regulatory framework, while supporting those working in this demanding sector to enjoy a rewarding career, we can bring about positive change for all. We look forward to working with our colleagues in other veterinary associations to submit further evidence to the CMA during the consultation period which ends on 11 April 2024.”

The VMG will hold its annual VMG Congress on 25-26 April.