When I qualified as a vet 34 years ago ,it was recognised that the veterinary profession was probably the most trusted and respected of all professions. Our main aim was to treat and look after the animals in our care to the best of our ability.
Now I commonly hear things like ” all the vets are interested in is the money ” ; “the first question I was asked was is my pet insured” ; ” every time I go to the vet they try and sell me something” .We have lost much of the trust that we originally had. Most vets still really care about you and your pet , so what has changed ?
All veterinary surgeries are a business and they have to make enough money to be able to continue giving their services . When I qualified ,veterinary businesses could only be owned by veterinary surgeons but even in those times a small number of people came to realise the potential earning power of veterinary businesses and I believe this was the start
of when we became less trusted.
This situation worsened when non vets were allowed to own veterinary businesses and this began the start of corporate ownership. Presently two of the largest veterinary corporates were floated on the stock exchange.
This does not mean that the vets working in these situations care any less about animals or do not do their very best for you. However there is more financial influence . For a start the shareholders want a good return on their investment ,then the directors expect good salaries as well as the managers , and then finally the vets and nurses need paying .
This whole structure requires the vets to earn more as compared to privately owned surgeries ( unless the owner wants large houses ,expensive cars and a yacht!)
It is true that there are many more operations and procedures that can be performed now which are often expensive but this just leaves many people behind when they find they can not afford it and nobody will allow them credit to pay over a period of time .
Charging structures have changed and there has been a 40% increase in veterinary fees in the last five years in many places. Then there is the up selling and other business practices .
If we are not careful the next thing we will see is global ownership of veterinary business. We have to move with the times and we need to make sure we offer services that our clients want and benefit from but we need to keep an eye on why we do this job which is the love of the animals .