I WAS chatting recently to a retired vet who was bemoaning the changes in his old industry. “If you phone the vet on a Saturday afternoon because your dog has been injured out shooting, the chances are that your call will be passed on to a practice 20 miles away. What’s more, the vet you talk to will more likely be a member of PETA than BASC. The old days of knowing your vet are fast disappearing.”
Few industries have changed more in the past 20 years than the veterinary business. It started in the late 1990s, following amendment of the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966) that finally allowed practices to be owned by people other than qualified veterinary surgeons.
Before long, around 400 of the 4,115 veterinary sites across the country were under corporate control. By 2018, Independent Vetcare (IVC), Vets4Pets, CVS, Linnaeus, Medivet and VetPartners had bought up a total of 1,781 practices out of a total of 5,068, putting 35% of all practices into the control of the corporates.
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