Farm Ireland

Monday 25 March 2019

'Longer call out waits and possible animal welfare issues could be the norm if vet practices are owned by corporates'

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Longer waits for call-outs and unmotivated workers would become the norm if practices were allowed to be owned by corporations or lay people, Veterinary Ireland has claimed.

Outgoing President of Veterinary Ireland Gerry Neary said corporate entities have already purchased four practices. He warned that a further 40-100 practices are being eyed up by buyers.

Last year the Veterinary Council of Ireland issued a rule change that would allow veterinary practices be owned by corporate bodies or non-registered persons. Due to opposition from practicing vets, the rule went in to public consultation in August and a review is currently underway.

Mr Neary told the Joint Agriculture Committee the danger of allowing corporates to purchases veterinary practices is that it would lead to animal welfare issues and long waits for call outs.

“You’re talking about an 80-miles radius and three hour guarantees to get to an emergency. It has done away with sheep practice altogether in England because the charge for lambing a ewe wouldn’t justify bringing them out, there are huge animal welfare issues,” he said.

He also added that corporate purchases could lead to a demotivation of the industry.

“It’s not an issue who owns the practice but vets have to be able to run it independently. Young vets would be unmotivated employees of a big corporation. The one thing that bothers me is the demotivation of the profession if that happens,” he said.

“Most vets go over and beyond five o clock, it’s your practice, it’s your client, it’s your neighbour. I’ve often been dressed to go to a family communion and have had to lamb a ewe with blood all over my shirt, you just do it”

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Mr Neary added that the argument of those pro-corporate ownership it that young people would benefit from better working hours and conditions but he stated that 86pc of their young members voted against corporate and lay ownership.

He said the “ideal solution” to ownership would be to give existing vets corporate status

“I hope we have the sense that the solution is that vets would be given an overdue incorporation status which is available to all people who are involved in service industries. It would allow practices be able to salvage money to invest in their practices and be able to provide MRI scans and advanced equipment.”

Mr Neary claimed that the four practices believes to be purchased by corporates are operating “outside of the law” and has notified the Veterinary Council.

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