The veterinary professional associations have expressed concern and disappointment at the incidents revealed in the undercover footage in the BBC’s Panorama programme ‘It shouldn’t happen at a vet’s’ and are calling on the BBC to provide all of the evidence to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) for a full investigation.
One of the main issues raised by the programme is the lack of support and supervision for younger and less experienced vets and veterinary nurses, as well as other staff who are not qualified (referred to as “trainees” in the programme). Ultimately it is the veterinary surgeon who must take responsibility for the animals in his/her care. Vets are robustly regulated by the RCVS, as revealed in the case of Kfir Segev who was struck off by the RCVS.
The programme also highlighted a number of concerning incidents of alleged fraud, dishonesty and bad practice that pet owners and the general public will have found very distressing. The BVA, BSAVA and SPVS cannot condone any bad practice. Some of these incidents featured are clearly unacceptable; others will require further investigation and it is vital that the RCVS is given the evidence to take this forward.
The veterinary associations are very concerned that viewers may now have concerns about their own vets. It is vital that the relationship of trust between a client and their vet is maintained. As was made clear in the programme, the vast majority of vets provide a high quality service and have the best interests of their clients and patients at heart.
We would advise pet owners to talk to their vet, as well as the rest of the practice team, if they have any concerns. We are advising our members to spend extra time dealing with clients’ questions and concerns following the programme, as well as offering the opportunity to meet the whole veterinary team and see behind the scenes in the practice.
Professor Bill Reilly, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:
“There will be concern amongst pet owners following the programme, but it is vital to remember that the vast majority of vets enjoy a high level of trust from their clients because they are incredibly hard working and caring.
“It is essential that every member of the veterinary team feels supported and well supervised to ensure they are only asked to carry out tasks that they are qualified, trained and competent to do.”
Grant Petrie, President of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, said:
“We would urge the profession and public alike to continue reporting issues of concern. The BSAVA believes that the inappropriate actions and breach of trust of a few should not tarnish the true endeavours of the majority of veterinary surgeons who provide a dedicated and professional service.”
Jacqui Molyneux, President of the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons, said:
“SPVS would never condone leaving junior staff to sink or swim. In fact we help run a Final Year Seminar for veterinary students each year where we stress over and over again that students should not take jobs where they are not given adequate support. It is imperative that young vets should have the support of more experienced vets to help when things are not going according to plan.”