Vetinerary Ireland welcomes proposed bill to amend vet ownership

The announcement of intentions to bring forward a bill to amend the Veterinary Practice Act 2005-2012 to confine ownership of veterinary practices to registered veterinary practitioners has been welcomed by Veterinary Ireland (VI).

The organisation hailed the announcement by Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill of his intention to propose a bill to amend with the objective of “ensuring that the registered veterinary practitioner in charge is an integral part of the ownership structure”.

‘Encroachment by lay corporate entities’

This course of action has been “necessitated by the recent encroachment by lay corporate entities” into the ownership and operation of veterinary practices in Ireland, VI said in a statement, adding:

“Veterinary Ireland is extremely disappointed that the Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) has failed to take measures to stop the purchase and operation of veterinary practices in Ireland by lay corporate bodies in contravention of the Veterinary Practice Act 2005.”

The veterinary representative body noted VCI president Peadar Ó Scanaill’s comments that “the veterinary practitioner is the service provider and any non-registrant owner, part owner or investor must not influence nor seek to influence the service provision to the public at and from that premises”.

Commenting on this, VI president Conor Geraghty said:

“The recent closure of a veterinary practice in Donegal by its lay corporate owner clearly demonstrates that, contrary to Mr. Ó Scanaill’s assertions, the registered veterinary practitioner in charge was powerless to prevent this closure.

This resulted in serious animal health and welfare issues and in critically important and dangerous drugs being under the control of non-vets.

“In order that this sequence of events can never be repeated, it is necessary to amend the Veterinary Practice Act 2005, to ensure that the veterinary practitioner in charge must be an integral part of the ownership structure and have total control of the operation of the veterinary practice,” Geraghty said.

Veterinary Ireland stated its support of deputy Cahill’s assessment that “whilst the Veterinary Practice Act remains silent on ownership of veterinary practices, and lay corporates continue to acquire Irish veterinary practices, the resultant damage to the Irish industry will be a poorer and vastly more expensive service to the Irish consumer”.

‘Overwhelming support of Oireachtas committee

Veterinary Ireland also acknowledged the “overwhelming support of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine in addressing this issue of critical importance” to the future delivery of veterinary services in Ireland.

Concluding, the VI statement noted that the organisation looks forward to the committee’s support of this proposed legislation.