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Veterinary fees: Why?

Many, many times during my career I have been asked why are your charges so high? (Let me point out here that they were not "my" charges but the charges of the practices I was working for and not controlled by myself.) I never believed that the charges were high considering the service which was being provided. In this article I will explain my views.

Many complaints from clients arise because of veterinary charges. I have often heard the question asked, "why do I have to pay to see a vet when I can see a doctor and pay nothing?" The answer is that seeing a GP is NOT free. We pay a huge amount of tax if we work and some of this is used to fund the NHS. (Some is also used to bomb innocent children in places like Iraq but I will not discuss that further!) The NHS then pays the GP to provide the services to you. This system is not transparent to the people funding it (you and me via our taxes), is probably hugely wasteful with our money, and does not necessarily even inform you about the best treatment options available if they are deemed too expensive to fund. Under this system you pay whether you use the service or not, you have no choice to shop around for a cheaper service and treatments and consultations are carried out to fit the practice or hospital schedule, without your prior commitments being taken into consideration.

On the other hand a veterinary consultation will cost around 20 plus VAT together with fees for other services and /or drugs. (This is not expensive - think about solicitors or accountants fees, even some hairdressers are charging more than this!). Often when booking a consultation, appointments will be available at the weekend or evening to fit around your schedule. If you call in to the practice you will very often be offered an appointment for the same day and if further treatment is necessary this can often be done too, unlike the NHS with its long waiting lists.

You have a choice when finding a vet and can shop around for cheaper practices if you wish, but it is probably best to search for a vet with whom you can develop a rapport. In considering the expense of a veterinary visit do bare in mind that the practice will have to fund large overheads in most cases. Staff must be paid, the building rented or purchased, premises kept in good order, insurances of many kinds paid, equipment and training invested in, and the list of expenses involved in running the practice goes on.

To avoid the charges and fees of your practice becoming a problem, always ensure that you receive a quote before any procedures or treatments are carried out. Ask the vet to contact you if they need to provide extra treatment which will mean the fees exceed the quote, before any such treatment is carried out, (most vets would do this anyway). If you do have a problem paying the fees discuss this with your vet BEFORE any treatment is carried out- there may be cheaper options available, the vet may be able to refer you to one of the charitable organisations, or may be able to help in some other way. In many cases vets will take an altruistic view of things and it is not unknown for vets to reduce or waive fees in exceptionally needy cases. Vets are not greedy, (in fact veterinary medicine is not a particularly well paid profession considering the talent and training of many individuals in practice), but they do have a need to run the veterinary practice as a business.

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All Rights Reserved | Content is provided for information only. All content on is protected by copyright and therefore may not be copied without specific written permission from the author. Disclaimer: The content of this website is based upon the opinions of Samantha Coe, unless otherwise stated. Individual articles, extracts, and any links to external sites are based upon the opinions of the respective author(s), who may retain copyright. The information on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a qualified veterinary professional and is not intended as medical advice. The purpose of this site is the sharing of knowledge and information - Samantha Coe encourages you to make informed healthcare decisions for animals in your care based upon your research and in consultation with your vet.