Tuesday 2 April 2024

Pet owners falling prey to extortionist corporate veterinary clinics

UK: Max Hastings a Times journalist has lambasted the veterinary profession in the UK which has deteriorated dramatically since the predatory and greedy corporate entities bought up thousands of independent veterinary in which the practices were owned by the partnership - the veterinarians working at the clinic. 

These were the charming, old-fashioned vets who more often than not focused on providing the best possible veterinary care rather than prioritising financial profit which is what vet clinics that are part of a chain now appear to do more often than not.

Max Hastings said this about a personal experience:
I heard last week of a friend's daughter who has resigned from private practice in disgust at the price gouging of its management, the relentless pursuit of financial targets and increased drug sales. This young woman now works instead for a charity, the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Meanwhile our local vet has just quoted us a price of £750 for removing a benign cyst from a dog's ear.
The Competition and Markets watchdog is investigating. Hastings believes that the trust of pet owners in their vets is being betrayed. He says that "we are struggling to identify a practice not owned by extortionists".

There is chain vets near me. A friend of mine asked me to take a guinea pig to a local Goddard vets. They are one of these corporate vets - a chain of outlets. And the vet there used four capsules of insecticide to treat a parasitic infection that appeared to have cleared up when probably one capsule would have done. And he smeared half of it in the fur and not on the skin. That looked like price gouging to me.

Two more case studies

My thanks to Bing's Co-pilot for researching these case studies.

Pet owners across the UK are grappling with staggering vet bills, leaving them feeling cornered and financially strained. The veterinary industry, valued at £2 billion, has come under scrutiny due to exorbitant costs and questionable value for money. Let’s delve into some real-life experiences shared by pet owners who have faced eye-watering expenses and unexpected financial burdens.

Case Studies:

  1. Dave Bicker’s Parson Russell Terrier, Rufus:

    • Rufus developed glaucoma, necessitating eye removal surgery.
    • The initial cost for tests and eye drops was £300.
    • The vet offered two options: an immediate operation for £800 or a £200 cheaper alternative in Derby.
    • Bicker’s colleagues generously pooled funds to cover the bill.
    • When Rufus needed a second enucleation, the cost had skyrocketed to £1,750 within just two-and-a-half years.
    • Bicker laments the lack of affordable vets and suspects price adjustments to match industry standards.
  2. Laura’s Experience with Dental Plaque Removal:

    • Laura’s rescue cat, Bella, required plaque removal from her teeth.
    • A London vet chain quoted an astonishing £900 for the procedure, insisting Bella be anesthetized.
    • While vacationing in France, Laura sought a local vet’s opinion.
    • The French vet charged a mere €33 (approximately £28) for the same procedure, completed in five minutes without anesthesia.
    • Laura was astounded by the stark contrast in costs between the UK and France.

Industry Investigation:

The UK’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into the veterinary services industry, aiming to address concerns of potential overcharging and lack of transparency1.

Pet owners find themselves caught in a delicate balance between their beloved companions’ health and financial strain. As the debate continues, it’s clear that affordable and accessible veterinary care remains a pressing issue for many.

Published on September 8, 2023

Read the full article on The Guardian

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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