Showing posts with label vet's fees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vet's fees. Show all posts

Saturday 17 June 2023

Huge rise in rip-off veterinary bills in the UK due to equity fund buyouts of independent vets

Huge rise in rip-off veterinary bills in the UK due to equity fund buyouts of independent vets
Huge rise in rip-off veterinary bills in the UK due to equity fund buyouts of independent vets. Image: MikeB

NEWS AND OPINION - UK: There are a number of reasons why veterinary bills have increased quite shockingly recently. But the primary reason is this: the independent veterinarians i.e. those veterinary clinics owned by the partners who are also veterinarians, have been bought up by corporate businesses owned by equity funds.

Huge rises in veterinary bills in the UK. Reasons discussed.
Young cat and vet. This picture is here for illustrative purposes only. Image: Pixabay.

It is equity funds who ultimately own British veterinarians in large numbers. And they bought them up because they saw an opportunity in the market.

They believed that the independent veterinarians were under-charging. They believed that they could dramatically up their charging rates and turn a huge profit. They saw an opportunity to exploit the veterinary market in the UK. 

It was an old-fashioned business. It suited the British citizen because British citizens like the old-fashioned ways. They were more honest and modest in their monetary aspirations. They weren't exploitative.

The charges were reasonable. And let's not forget that veterinarians provide a private health service. The British are used to the National Health Service which is free at the point of delivery.

If the charges suddenly rise dramatically as they have, they will be shocked and they are.

So, the first reason for the huge rises in veterinary fees is because corporate enterprises have bought up thousands of veterinary clinics and turned them into conglomerates; moneymaking businesses.

The second reason is that more and more people are turning to health insurance and this may be because the prices are going up. It's a kind of self-serving situation, an upward spiral.

Research by Tesco Bank suggests that more than half of pet owners in the UK now have pet health insurance.

Now, when a veterinarian knows that their work is going to be paid for by an insurance company, they feel that they can charge more. Once again, this is a self-serving, upward spiral in costs.

But the bottom line is that big business has got their teeth into the old-fashioned veterinary clinic and your typical cat-owning customer can own longer expect a charming veterinarian who is a partner in his own business charging you modest fees for a consultation and not seeking ways to rip you off.

Because when big business wants to make money out of any clinics they more or less have to rip you off. They will suggest procedures and operations which might not be necessary or borderline necessary.

One of the big providers of veterinary services in the UK is IVC. It is owned by private equity and operates more than a thousand practices.

Up to September 2021, in that year, they had revenues of £885 million which represents a 33% increase on the previous year. And there was an operating profit of £150 million.

One of the brands that IVC operates is Parkview Vets in south-east London. They charge £56.82 p for a consultation and £125 for a same day appointment. The cost of a spaying operation on a female dog varies between £390 and £590. They say that they provide a gold standard service. They should do at that price.

It is the same picture elsewhere. One lady, Abeer Alaydi, 28, adopted a kitten. She named him Charcoal. Charcoal became ill so she took him to a local veterinarian who charged £47 for an initial consultation.

The vet asked her some questions. Charcoal had been eating badly and was lethargic. She confirmed that Charcoal had not eaten a foreign body. The veterinarian suggested an x-ray and some blood tests.

The bill for those two simple procedures amounted to £700. She was shocked and said:

"I was shocked. I had no idea vets cost that much. I felt like I was being exploited. They could have run an external examination or offered him some food to see if it was a blockage or a loss of appetite, but I felt like they wanted to go for the most expensive option. As a first-time pet owner, I was worried and felt responsible for the well-being of my kitten. However, they are experienced vets and should be able to tell when something is serious enough to call for an x-ray. I feel I was emotionally manipulated to agree to any suggestions they offered."

She felt that she was exploited and, to me, the charges look high to put it mildly. I'm not used to these prices either. But what is behind it is ultimately greed because equity funds only buy businesses to exploit them, to squeeze out as much profit as they can from them and to do so ruthlessly.

The Competition and Markets Authority is actively monitoring competition in the veterinary industry. They are receiving complaints about higher prices or lower quality services because too many vets in a similar area are under the control of the same business. This is stifling competition.

This is a very bad development for British cat and dog owners. Watch this space. What is happening is that some cat and dog owners are going abroad to countries like Turkey or France where they can obtain prices which are much reduced to those in Britain. They go on a holiday and have their cattle dog checked out and treated at the same time. A consultation in France costs £30 compared to more than twice that at £70 in the UK. Rip-off Britain is at it again.

The problem here is that there are pet passport issues to contend with and of course after-care issues as well. It's impossible to deliver proper after-care if you are living in Britain and the operation took place in Turkey.

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