Big business vets

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Discussion

Desiderata

Original Poster:

682 posts

21 months

Monday 14th June
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Anyone here a vet?
Round about here (and apparently nationally too) all the little local vet practices have been bought up by "big corporate" and are now money spinners, charging twice what they used to.
What's the reason for this? And if there's that much money to be made, why don't the small guys just set up again and take the big boys on? Most people I know would rather work with someone local that they know and trust.

Iwantafusca

1,288 posts

42 months

Monday 14th June
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Couldn’t you say this about most things ? Once you reach a certain success level there is no need to innovate or keep up good service , just buy up the competition/ little man and fk everyone over , your staff / their staff / customers etc. Modern capitalism.

Challo

6,580 posts

122 months

Tuesday 15th June
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Desiderata said:
Anyone here a vet?
Round about here (and apparently nationally too) all the little local vet practices have been bought up by "big corporate" and are now money spinners, charging twice what they used to.
What's the reason for this? And if there's that much money to be made, why don't the small guys just set up again and take the big boys on? Most people I know would rather work with someone local that they know and trust.
We moved from our local practice as they where bought by a large corporate the service had become terrible.

Moved to an independent further away, but its been set-up by 4 individuals who's previous practice has also been purchased. They have been fantastic with our dogs and couldn't fault the service they provide.

I can imagine the main reason new private practices are not created is due to cost. The building, equipment, staff much cost a significant amount and are people willing to take the risk?


Doofus

16,135 posts

140 months

Tuesday 15th June
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Not only do the 'big' name vets charge more, but they do unneccessary work. They are very keen to remove cats' teeth, for example, which earns them money and has very little negative effect on the cat.

Thevet

1,558 posts

200 months

Tuesday 15th June
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Well, I sold my practice to a corporate nearly 4 years ago, mostly to provide a way to recoup my investment in setting up a business over the previous 25 years, when banks wouldn't lend to the up and coming replacements. Certainly, some aspects are quite where I would have gone, but without this particular corporate IVC, we would not be able to emply small animal vets (they don't want to work as much and sacrifice the personal life that I have), and we have now a much more successful practice than we did before, and that does not mean, more profitable.
Life is changing, I did not envisage the ingress of corporates into my profession, but without them, many smaller practices would no longer be there. There is still an impression that we should treat animals as though we are a charity. My life has been dominated by my work, many times I've rolled out of bed to atttend animals/clients, and if anyone says I've charged reasonably, then you are massively misinformed, I've been honoured to serve my friends, both two and four legged, and most accept that having someone at the end of a phone 24/7 365 days a year is something that will cost, as it ruins my private life, and will gradually start to impact the lives of those that follow me.
If, vets want to set up their own practices, then good for them, if they decide to operate at lower cost to clients then that will come back to haunt them. I hope that we, as a part of a corporate, continue to provide the best care for our patients at a cost that is realistic, I wish more complainers would try running a business that demands a 24/7 cover.

Doofus

16,135 posts

140 months

Tuesday 15th June
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Thevet said:
Things
Neither the 'big name' that we used until it became one, nod the independent that we use now actually provide 24/7 cover. Out of hours is covered by the PDSA.

smile

pidsy

6,472 posts

124 months

Tuesday 15th June
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My sisters practice was sold to one of “the big names” a couple of years ago. It’s put huge pressure on staff - now they have sales targets and costs have gone up.

There are very few independent practices left - especially in urban areas.

Mr Pointy

8,447 posts

126 months

Tuesday 15th June
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It's such easy money Private Equity firms are buying up pratices because they can be used to generate very good returns; owners can be readily rinsed because they will pay almost anything to treat their pet. This site has quite a few articles looking at the subject:

https://vetidealist.com/who-is-buying-veterinary-h...
https://vetidealist.com/private-equity-veterinaria...
https://vetidealist.com/category/ownership/

Challo

6,580 posts

122 months

Tuesday 15th June
quotequote all
Thevet said:
Well, I sold my practice to a corporate nearly 4 years ago, mostly to provide a way to recoup my investment in setting up a business over the previous 25 years, when banks wouldn't lend to the up and coming replacements. Certainly, some aspects are quite where I would have gone, but without this particular corporate IVC, we would not be able to emply small animal vets (they don't want to work as much and sacrifice the personal life that I have), and we have now a much more successful practice than we did before, and that does not mean, more profitable.
Life is changing, I did not envisage the ingress of corporates into my profession, but without them, many smaller practices would no longer be there. There is still an impression that we should treat animals as though we are a charity. My life has been dominated by my work, many times I've rolled out of bed to atttend animals/clients, and if anyone says I've charged reasonably, then you are massively misinformed, I've been honoured to serve my friends, both two and four legged, and most accept that having someone at the end of a phone 24/7 365 days a year is something that will cost, as it ruins my private life, and will gradually start to impact the lives of those that follow me.
If, vets want to set up their own practices, then good for them, if they decide to operate at lower cost to clients then that will come back to haunt them. I hope that we, as a part of a corporate, continue to provide the best care for our patients at a cost that is realistic, I wish more complainers would try running a business that demands a 24/7 cover.
When our local practice got purchased, we didn’t see a change in the costs but the biggest impact was on the service. The previous vets left, and they seemed to have a constant of locums. They never knew the history of our dogs, or even bothered to check.

Just seemed to become a soulless business rather than a place you want to take your pet. I’m sure not all are like that, and the new independent is actually more expensive, but they take interest in you and your pet which is a big thing for most people.

PushedDover

3,470 posts

20 months

Tuesday 15th June
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Because the bulk of pets procedures are covered / paid for by nameless faceless insurance Co’s

No more sucking the teeth at the thought of the bill for Fluffy / Tigger / Rover - and pass the bill on. Which is largely seen as ‘free money’

Ergo vets fees can creep a little = good business

garythesign

1,248 posts

55 months

Wednesday 16th June
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I would like to thank Tim (The Vet) for his post. It is good to see this from a vet’s point of view.

Desiderata

Original Poster:

682 posts

21 months

Wednesday 16th June
quotequote all
garythesign said:
I would like to thank Tim (The Vet) for his post. It is good to see this from a vet’s point of view.
Yes Tim, thanks for that, you've answered my original post very well.
Two of my friends have just "cashed in" on their practice in order to enjoy a very well deserved retirement, however they seem to agree with many of their former customers that the new service isn't as good. Maybe the new owners are just more realistic with regards to expectations and true costs.

8bit

3,207 posts

122 months

Wednesday 16th June
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Doofus said:
Not only do the 'big' name vets charge more, but they do unneccessary work. They are very keen to remove cats' teeth, for example, which earns them money and has very little negative effect on the cat.
This, exactly in our case. Our youngest cat was diagnosed with feline tooth resorption, not uncommon in a cat of her age. Local vet (who we had assumed was still independent) turned out to have been acquired by a very large, multinational corporation, we discovered this when they referred the cat to a vet dental specialist about 2.5 hours from here - they sent on the x-rays - and the opinion that came back was that almost half of her teeth required removal.

I did some digging and found that both of these practices were now part of the same group. Some more digging and I discovered that the place our vet wanted to refer our other cat to for extended kidney function tests was also in this group.

We switched to another, verified-independent vet and the young one only needed two teeth out and the older one is doing just fine with a daily dose of Semintra to support his kidneys.

I appreciate everything that "thevet" has said and I sympathise but from this side of the situation it appears very much like pet care and indeed the pets themselves are becoming commoditised by the larger corporations. Our pets are part of our family and I for one won't have them treated as part of the revenue stream of a large corporation in order to extract as much money from our pet insurance company as possible.

Thevet

1,558 posts

200 months

Friday 18th June
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8bit said:
I appreciate everything that "thevet" has said and I sympathise but from this side of the situation it appears very much like pet care and indeed the pets themselves are becoming commoditised by the larger corporations. Our pets are part of our family and I for one won't have them treated as part of the revenue stream of a large corporation in order to extract as much money from our pet insurance company as possible.
You are of course entitled to yout view of the situation, but park this thought on the situation in your mind for a few years, as the general nature of the vets qualifying changes from animal lovers who are motivated to work for their clients and patients towards high flyers who can't take the strain of expectation and demand, and have to accept that a four day week with no on-call requires greater cost to the patient, then you will find that it is not the corporates who are screwing the clients. If you are able to get out of your bed for a client who often doesn't pay but expects everything, then you should have been a vet.
The profession is changing along with society, soon due to the nature of incoming vet graduates, you will struggle to find a vet. Many practices are struggling with staff and the pressure of modern life, vetting and expectations.
If you think that your vets are ripping you off, then please please vote with your feet

Bradgate

2,446 posts

114 months

Friday 18th June
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A member of my immediate family is a vastly experienced small animal vet who qualified before the corporate revolution and has worked through it.

The profession has changed fundamentally over the last 25 years. Today’s young vets are overwhelmingly women, particularly in the pet vet sector. Traditionally, most vets were men and after gaining a decent amount of post-qualification experience they would want to set up on their own or buy into an existing practice, both of which entailed taking on large debts. This inevitably entailed a huge commitment in terms of working hours & the pressures of running their own business in their 30s & 40s.

Most young vets today have very different priorities. Instead of starting their own businesses in their 30s, they want to start families. They then want family-friendly working hours and conditions, including job-sharing just like other professional working mums. Corporates can offer this, and they can also offer alternative family-friendly career paths, such as Area Manager roles. Being a vet was once a vocation. It has now become a job.

jmsgld

839 posts

143 months

Saturday 19th June
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Doofus said:
Not only do the 'big' name vets charge more, but they do unnecessary work. They are very keen to remove cats' teeth, for example, which earns them money and has very little negative effect on the cat.
Thankfully I think that it is very unlikely that any vets are removing cat's teeth unnecessarily, to do so would be entirely unethical and would risk being struck off.
There are always varying medical opinions, but I would find it hard to justify disagreeing with a dental specialist as to which teeth would be better extracted. Gold standard dental work with cats is complicated and costly.

If my own dog were to need any significant treatment then I would refer to specialists safe in the knowledge that he would receive gold standard care, I would expect significant cost, I would not expect a corporate owned referral centre to do things differently or charge more than a privately owned one.

It is a sad sign of the times that independent practices are dwindling, a few of my friends are in the process of setting up practices or have recently opened new ones, so there are some new ones coming about. I looked at setting up independently myself a few years ago, but the idea of working 7 days a week and being constantly on call whilst building up substantial and increasing debt for a few years was not something that I nor my family could stomach. Society is also very different from 25 years ago, there is much more of a complaint culture and even just one disgruntled and motivated client can really de-rail a veterinary business.

It is always said how much better independent practices are, I have locumed for many years and as such have worked at many practices, both independent and corporate. I would say that the independent practices are more variable, all of the absolute worst practices I have worked at or known about have been independent, but equally so have the best ones. The vets who work in the corporate practices are largely the same vets who would be working in private practices if they were still private, we try our best on the whole. We work long hours in a stressful job and most of us don't really care about money, as if we did, we would do something else more lucrative!

HTP99

18,413 posts

107 months

Saturday 19th June
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Our vet who we have been on the books with for about 20 years were taken over by a big group about 2 years ago, so far we haven't noticed any change the staff are mostly the same, the vet's are too and in the past year we had a major issue with an eye ulcer in one of our dogs which started just after Lockdown 1 and was ongoing for about 8 months, with regular vet trips and eye treatment, all check ups were done at no cost to us, the vet said she'd carry on not charging until someone high up, notices and brings it up and she managed to get a few treatments through without charging us too, so largely no change in service.

My daughter has recently taken on a student vet nurse roll, pending her vet nurse degree completion which is imminent, for a very large and well known group, she has no complaints so far about any aspect of them, believe me we would know about it if there were aspects in respect of animal welfare and treatment of patients and owners that she wasn't happy with, she is actually is very pleased with starting with them as there is huge scope for movement and promotion within the group, they have fantastic facilities that go way beyond the average vet practice.

untakenname

3,726 posts

159 months

Saturday 19th June
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My cat suddenly needs her teeth out after going for a routine checkup and I'd rather she retains them as sometimes scuffles with foxes, is it worth getting a second opinion?

jmsgld

839 posts

143 months

Saturday 19th June
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If you're not convinced it's the right thing to do then it might be worth calling them for a chat to try and understand why they have recommended extractions and voice your concerns. If you still don't agree, then a second opinion would seem a sensible next step.

B235r

121 posts

16 months

Saturday 19th June
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Both the vets in our town are now owned by some big faceless corporation & both of them offer poor service & eye watering prices