Over 50% of vets oppose corporate ownership – VCI survey

A recently released survey has found that opposition to the corporate ownership of veterinary practice “is clear” among veterinary practitioners.

The report, entitled ‘Analysis of the VCI Consultation on Corporate Ownership of Veterinary Practices’, was carried out by professional services firm Grant Thornton on behalf of the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI).

It found that around 52% of veterinary practitioners, and 42% of veterinary nurses, oppose the idea of corporate ownership and believe that it should be disallowed or not allowed.

Meanwhile, approximately 14% of practitioners and 25% of nurses said that corporate ownership “makes no difference”, while roughly 34% in each category said that it should be allowed.

Of the 34% of practitioners who are in favour, 39% were also practice owners.

According to these figures, the authors of the report contended that: “There is a slight movement in the opinion on the matter. However, at the end of the survey, much like the start, opposition to corporate ownership is clear.”

The survey was carried out among 1,021 of the 2,792 registered practitioners, and 292 of the 903 registered nurses.

The report also summarised and quoted the main opinions and arguments from the respondents, indicating the reasons behind their opinions.

Arguments opposing corporate ownership included fears that: younger vets would not be able to afford to buy a practice; corporately owned practices would not run rural or farm practices; these practices would not be driven by ethics or animal welfare; and they would be solely “profit motivated”.

On the other side of the argument, the prominent reasons favouring corporate ownership were that: nurses and employees would be treated more fairly; there could be better terms and conditions, such as breaks and work-life balance; it is anti-competitive to disallow this type of ownership; and it may help smaller practices to combine and become more viable.

Summarising the results of the survey, the authors said that there was a “high level of awareness” of the issue among practitioners and nurses.

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