Authorities are investigating the pricing and competition landscape, addressing concerns about the rising costs of pet care.
British vets have been placed in the hot seat as a review has been launched led by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Under this review, officials will explore the sizable market, examine the pricing of services, and survey whether pet parents are receiving the information they need and the treatment their pets require.
Other areas that the CMA will look into are managing and selling prescription medications and locations with limited emergency vet care options.
“Caring for an ill pet can create real financial pressure, particularly alongside other cost of living concerns,” admits CMA CEO Sarah Cardell. For Cardell, it is vital that “people get clear information and pricing to help them make the right choices.”
There will be an update on the review in early 2024.
What prompted the review
Cardell says it is a good time to conduct the review as “there has been a lot of consolidation in the vet industry in recent years, so now is the right time to take a look at how the market is working.”
According to the CMA, the number of independent vet practises and the ownership changed in latest times. “Independent practices accounted for 89% of the UK veterinary industry in 2013, which fell to approximately 45% by 2021,” the government department notes.
Therefore, there are increasing instances where “one company may own hundreds of practices, and it may be unclear to people whether [their] vet is part of a large group.”
Cooperation from the industry
British veterinary group IVC Evidensia, that has a network of over 1,000 clinics across the UK, emphasized to GlobalPETS that they will engage “openly and constructively” with the CMA investigation. “IVC Evidensia is fully committed to maintaining effective competition,” they say.
The firm claims its medical staff “have clinical treatment independence, empowering them to recommend and provide the care best suited to both a patient’s medical needs and an owner’s financial position.”
“We work closely with our regulators, and we and our colleagues will support the CMA review,” states UK’s largest veterinary chain CVS Group.
Price point issues
CVS has over 500 locations in the UK and has sought to ensure its prices are appropriate and reflect fair value to its clients. “Our pricing structures are set by clinicians to ensure these align with our purpose,” a company spokesperson says.
“There continues to be a significant shortage of vets in the UK, and employment costs represent the most significant proportion of our cost base. Our pricing reflects this and other inflationary pressures experienced in recent years.”
IVC Evidensia highlights that the vet sector is facing similar challenges like other industries with “significant increases” in costs from basic supplies and energy to medicines and clinical equipment. “This is having an impact on customer pricing,” they admit.
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