RCVS responds to CMA review of vet sector and welcomes call for modernising regulatory framework

Having contributed to the CMA’s work to review the vet sector over the past six months,  the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) welcomes its recommendation to modernise the College’s regulatory framework through new legislation, something that the RCVS has been calling on government for, for over 20 years.

In particular, mandatory practice regulation is a key part of the package of legislative reform that the RCVS is seeking, and the College has already formed a working group to flesh out the detail in preparation for government time being available to consider a new Act.

Dr Sue Paterson FRCVS, President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, said: “The fact that there has been such a large response to the CMA’s survey from veterinary professionals as well as animal owners is testament to the strength of feeling about the need for change to some parts of the veterinary sector. We know that owners care deeply about their animals, and that vets and vet nurses are hugely committed to maintaining the health and welfare of animals across the UK, and supporting public health. We feel it is important to recognise and thank vets and vet nurses for this commitment, especially in the face of current workforce shortages and increased animal ownership.

“Whilst it is not in our remit as a professional regulator to influence business structures local markets or price levels, we do recognise the CMA’s concerns over clarity of medicines supply options and pricing information. Our current guidance to the profession is already aligned with the CMA’s recommendations, but we know there is always more we can do to highlight these requirements to both the professions and the animal-owning public.”

To this end, the RCVS set up a Public Advisory Group in 2023 to help support its work from a consumer perspective, a current key workstream of which is developing improved online advice to help animal owners get the best out of their interactions with their vet team.

In the coming weeks, the College will also be asking its Standards Committee, the governance group that oversees the RCVS codes of professional conduct, to review, consolidate and streamline its current guidance for vets and vet nurses to help those working in clinical practice to better understand the requirements.

More immediately, the College will take some time to read and digest the CMA’s recommendations in full, consider how it might most usefully respond to the upcoming consultation, and look forward to working closely with the CMA to bring about veterinary legislative reform to modernise its regulatory framework.

The CMA’s full consultation document can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-identifies-multiple-concerns-in-vets-market

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