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BVA issues guidance to help vets address CMA concerns

Issue: 10/05/2024

The British Veterinary Association (BVA), which represents more than 19,000 vets across the UK, has published guidance to help vet practices provide greater client choice, by improving transparency around fees and practice ownership.  
The guidance gives veterinary professionals the tools needed to address some of the provisional concerns raised by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), following its initial review of the veterinary services market for pets in the UK.  
The guidance sets out a range of simple measures that practices can take to increase transparency of fees, transparency of practice ownership, and prescribing and dispensing. Collectively, these steps will also contribute to good animal welfare through improved client choice, as well as shared responsibility for the delivery of contextualised care. 
The six key recommendations are: 
• Invite and encourage open and honest conversations about fees at an early stage.
• Display a price list, in a variety of formats, for your most frequently offered services.
• Include clear information about payment options available.
• Normalise the principle of contextualised care in your practice culture.
• Proactively offer a prescription, where clinically appropriate, and discuss dispensing options.
• Provide information about the ownership of your practice, as well as any associated services.
The guidance addresses the CMA’s specific concerns around transparency and consumer choice and is available for the whole veterinary profession to download.  
British Veterinary Association President Dr. Anna Judson, said: “Vet teams have been under intense scrutiny since the Competition and Markets Authority launched its initial review. BVA continues to work hard to ensure the proposed CMA investigation is informed by full understanding of the myriad challenges facing the profession. 
“However, increased transparency, particularly around fees and practice ownership, is a specific area where practices can get on the front foot and take positive action today. BVA’s new guidance provides clear recommendations to help the profession rebuild trust with clients around the value of veterinary care.” 
The guidance also encourages teams to embrace contextualised care within practices, where appropriate and proportionate care is tailored to the needs of both the client and the animal. This shared responsibility means that owners can work closely with their vet on an approach to patient care and all members of the veterinary team can feel confident to encourage vet-client discussions.   
Anna added: “Understanding context and delivering tailored treatment is increasingly recognised across the profession and is critical to optimising the welfare of the animals under our care. 
“Far from being seen as a lower standard of care, the shared responsibility for contextualised care empowers clients and enables them to work closely with their vet. This often leads to better relationships and greater trust between vet teams and their clients and ultimately, healthier and happier animals.”