Wednesday, June 19, 2024

British Veterinary Association responds to ‘market investigation’ of the veterinary sector

THE Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched a formal ‘market investigation’ into the UK’s veterinary services market for household pets, following the conclusion of a consultation on the proposals last month.

The CMA has confirmed that its initial concerns remain the same as in March and it will proceed with the market investigation which will further explore whether:

  • consumers are getting the information they need, at the right time, to make informed decisions
  • a limited choice of vet businesses in some local areas is impacting pet owners
  • profits earned are consistent with the levels expected in a competitive market
  • vet businesses have the incentive and ability to limit consumer choice when providing treatments or recommending related services, particularly when they are part of large integrated groups
  • the regulatory framework is preventing the market from functioning as well as it could

The CMA will set up and inquiry group to oversee the investigation made up of independent experts and chaired by Martin Coleman.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA), which represents more than 19,000 vets across the UK, responds to the CMA’s market investigation:

British Veterinary Association President Dr. Anna Judson, said:

“Vets take immense pride in the high-quality service and specialised medical care they provide the UK’s animals and their owners. Whilst fees reflect the investment needed to keep practices financially viable and open, we recognise more can be done to improve client choice and vet teams are already taking action to address the Competition and Markets Authority’s specific concerns around transparency of fees and practice ownership.

“As the CMA undertakes its investigation, it’s important to remember that vets genuinely care and prioritise the health and welfare of animals – it’s often their motivation for entering what is a highly pressured profession. Since the CMA first announced their review, vet teams in practice have found themselves on the end of really unpleasant, often abusive behaviour. This is unacceptable and we urge everyone to remember that vets are people and are often not responsible for the pricing structures within a practice.

“The Competition and Markets Authority has acknowledged that urgent reform of the outdated Veterinary Surgeons Act is needed and regulation of vet practices should be introduced, a change BVA has consistently campaigned for. As it stands, the legislation is not fit for purpose and is failing both vet teams and clients. We hope the CMA’s market investigation will further interrogate the need for reform and support our calls urgent cross-party support for action and inclusion in party political manifestos as we head towards a General Election.”

BVA recently published guidance to help vet practices provide greater client choice, by improving transparency around fees and practice ownership. The guidance gives veterinary professionals the tools needed to address some of the concerns raised by the CMA following its initial review of the veterinary services market for pets in the UK.  

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