Saturday, July 17, 2021

Crisis developing in UK's veterinary profession

UK veterinary practices are going through a sort of mini-crisis in my opinion. The first big problem is that there appears to be a lot of new young veterinarians coming into the market and many of them are females. They don't want to work on farms putting their arms up the backside of cows while being ankle-deep in mud at 4 AM in the morning. They want to be in a nice, clean and warm veterinary clinic with their hands on a domestic cat. And new, young male vets probably prefer this too.

Crisis developing in UK's veterinary profession
 Crisis developing in UK's veterinary profession. Photo: Pixabay.

They say there's more money for a veterinarian working in a veterinary clinic on the high street somewhere compared to working with livestock in the countryside. That's the first issue and I suspect this is partly to do with the fact that more and more females are becoming veterinarians. It seems you have to be quite macho and male to deal with bulls and cows and the like.

Secondly, there is a shortage of veterinarians in the UK and therefore we have to import them from continental Europe. This is obviously helpful but do they have good enough English? Can they communicate properly to their clients? I'm not criticising them because I am sure they are as good as any other veterinarians but there is a language issue at the very least. And are they going to stick around?

Thirdly, independent veterinarians are being bought up by private equity companies. These are investors with pots of money looking to put their money somewhere. They pick on something profitable and leverage that business. They strip out the assets and essentially, they are looking to make a lot of money for themselves which sometimes translates to a poorer service.

Veterinarians are being driven by men in suits in the back office rather than the partners of independent veterinary practices whose sole objective is to serve the client and the patients. I would much rather deal with a private practice than a veterinary practice which is part of a large chain. All around where I live there are chain veterinarians. I don't like them. I don't like the way they monetise everything and focus on making money.


What I want is to meet a veterinarian in an independent practice who has at least 10 year's experience. I think that it is hard to meet that criterion in the UK. This is certainly the case where I live.

I would say that the profession is going through a kind of mini-crisis and it doesn't look good for companion animal guardians.

Another problem in terms of the cost of veterinary care is that vets tend to purchase more expensive diagnostic and treatment equipment. This means they charge more. And pet health insurance is expensive for what it does. It drives up the bills. I think people distrust pet health insurance. They would rather run their own insurance scheme by putting money to one side and ring-fencing it for a rainy day.

One farmer said that high street veterinary practices have jacked up their prices because they are owned by private equity firms in the city. And another said that he has to put down his own animals because he can't get a vet to do it for him.

Downing Street has added the veterinary profession to the Home Office's list of job shortages to allow recruiters to hire from overseas to fill this yawning gap.

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