BVNA responds to CMA review of veterinary sector

The British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) welcomes the initial findings of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) review, which were published today – 12th March 2024.

The initial CMA consultation saw an “unprecedented response” – receiving over 56,000 responses from the general public and veterinary industry. Following this review, CMA have proposed a formal market investigation, providing the opportunity to explore five key areas of concern in more depth:

  • Consumers may not be given enough information to enable them to choose the best veterinary practice or the right treatment for their needs
  • Concentrated local markets, in part driven by sector consolidation, may be leading to weak competition in some areas
  • Large integrated groups may have incentives to act in ways which reduce choice and weaken competition
  • Pet owners might be overpaying for medicines or prescriptions
  • The regulatory framework is outdated and may no longer be fit for purpose

The full consultation document can be viewed here.

Having engaged with the CMA throughout this initial review, BVNA fully supports the need to understand the veterinary sector in further detail, to ensure full transparency of information relating to the provision of veterinary services. BVNA continues to uphold the value of veterinary nursing care, along with highlighting RVNs’ significant impact on animal welfare as integral members of the veterinary team. A more in-depth investigation, especially which considers current legislation, also provides an important opportunity to consider how this role could be further enhanced.

Prior to launching a sector-wide market investigation, CMA have today opened a 4-week consultation period to gain further insight into views from the veterinary sector on this provisional decision.

BVNA President Lyndsay Hughes commented: “Given the rapidly evolving landscape of the veterinary industry in recent years, BVNA welcomes a more in-depth investigation by the CMA. We encourage veterinary professionals to engage positively with CMA’s ongoing work, as it represents an important opportunity to evaluate and enhance our own practices, along with ensuring that clients are empowered to make fully informed decisions over their pets’ treatment.

“The cost-of-living crisis continues to be a concern for all – whether pet owners or veterinary businesses. At this time, we emphasise that the absolute priority for all veterinary nurses, alongside their veterinary colleagues, is the welfare of the animals in their care. Veterinary teams provide highly skilled and specialised care to the nation’s pets, and – much like in human healthcare – enhanced equipment and technology means we are able to provide more advanced care than ever before. However, unlike human healthcare, there is no NHS for pets. We understand it is not always easy to recognise the true cost of providing these services, and vets are very much used to considering finances within any discussion about a pet’s treatment.

“We are encouraged that the CMA review has highlighted the outdated Veterinary Surgeons Act as an area of concern. BVNA have long called for reform of this unfit-for-purpose legislation, to include the protection that the ‘veterinary nurse’ title thoroughly deserves. Improved legislation will benefit the health and welfare of both pets and people.

“However, we have also been concerned that some unhelpful media coverage surrounding the CMA review to date has often led to exceptionally challenging circumstances for teams in practice, and especially those in client-facing roles. BVNA do not condone any form of abusive behaviour, whether in-person or online. We support all veterinary teams during this time, and remind them that Vetlife are available to any veterinary professional who needs to talk

“As the representative body for veterinary nurses in the UK, we also see this review as an opportunity to raise further awareness of the role of veterinary nurses amongst the general public. We will continue to actively engage with the CMA; responding to the new consultation, and continuing to champion the value of veterinary nursing care.”

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