Amendment bill to confine ownership of vet practices to practitioners brought forward

Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill brought forward the Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the Dáil this afternoon (Thursday, February 18).

The bill intends to amend the Veterinary Practice Act 2005-2012 with the objective of confining ownership of veterinary practices to registered veterinary practitioners.

This would ensure that the registered veterinary practitioner in charge is an integral part of the ownership structure, according to the Fianna Fáil TD.

Quality of service at reasonable cost

Speaking today, deputy Cahill said:

“My sole purpose in bringing forward this bill is to ensure that there is a quality of service and that the quality of service is at a reasonable cost.

It has been clearly shown to us in other countries that when corporates take over veterinary practices, that level of service decreases very significantly and the cost of it increases as well.

He added that this bill is to ensure “we continue to experience the excellent level of veterinary care that we had over generations”.

“We have a veterinary service in this country which we can be very proud of; a service which provides a 24-hour service and this isn’t just for farmers – we’re talking about small animal practices as well,” the deputy added.

Small animal practices are often the target for these corporates as they are the most lucrative of practices financially.

“The aim of this bill is to ensure that veterinary practitioners are the only ones who can own practices.”

Availability of vets in rural areas

The deputy said that in the previous Dáil term, there were discussions with the Veterinary Council of Ireland, in which it had “put forward [its] case for leaving the law as it stands”.

“But, the view of the Fianna Fáil party was that this amendment is necessary to ensure that we have a proper service going forward for the people who need it,” he continued.

We have another problem in rural areas with the availability of vets. I would welcome that people would make suggestions [for] this amendment bill that we can ensure we have availability of vets all over the country.

“Areas where bovine animals aren’t in large numbers, the economic viability of having a veterinary practice there is being brought into serious question and it’s something we need to look at again.”

He added that it is essential for animal welfare that there is the availability of veterinary professionals on a 24-hour basis.