“The main message that pet owners andveterinary surgeons should take home from [last] evening’s programme is the importance of communicating with each other.”

This is the response of RCVS president Jill Nute after watching ITV Tonight presenterJonathan Maitland’s report ( Pets undercover ) on the types oftreatment and level of veterinary fees charged by some members of theveterinary profession.

RCVS president Jill Nute Mirroring guidance already set out in the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct , by which all veterinary surgeons are expected to abide, Mrs Nute said: “There is no National HealthService for animals. Veterinary treatment, like private medical ornon-NHS dental treatment, can sometimes become expensive, especially inan emergency, so it is vital that vets always tell their clients thelikely cost of treatment as soon as possible, and present a range ofdifferent treatment options.”

“Equally, clients should always be prepared to ask their vetabout the potential costs of treatment and medicines, and about whatother options there might be. If the client has any concerns, theyshould either shop around for better value, or ask for a secondopinion.”

Mrs Nute claims she was interviewed for over an hour, although less than two minutes was used in the actualbroadcast. Elsewhere in her interview, Mrs Nute had agreedthat most animal owners were right to be concerned over whether therewas sufficient regulation of veterinary fees, but maintained that thiswas largely down to the control of market forces, not the RCVS.

Shehad emphasised that the College could step in where high fees mightconstitute serious professional misconduct, but cautioned that theOffice of Fair Trading would take a very dim view of a professionalregulator attempting to introduce price-fixing. “This was not in thepublic’s interest,” she’d said.

However, Mrs Nute had someconcern about the way in which the profession had generally beenportrayed in the programme. “In my 39 years of practice, I seem to haveseen a very different side to the profession,” she said.

“Inany profession, there will always be a few individuals who give therest a bad name, and we do a fair job in investigating the complaintsthat we receive about these individuals. However, the vast majority ofveterinary surgeons are honest, caring, conscientious and extremelyhard-working professionals, with their patients’ and clients’ bestinterests at heart.”

“Mr Abrahams did, however, make someimportant points about financial incentives for veterinary surgeons,and this is something that the College will look at.”

Turningto Tonight’s coverage of the RCVS inquiry into Mr Ranes Sanyal and theaccusation that he should not have been restored to the Register, Jillemphasised that Mr Sanyal had been found guilty of serious professionalmisconduct, and drew Mr Maitland’s attention to the severity of theCollege’s original sanction against him, including the acute stigma andsevere financial penalty of being struck off.

Referring tothe extra training (particularly in pharmacy and bandaging) that MrSanyal had received since being struck off, Jill said: “He had paid hispenalty, he had shown contrition, and he had also undertaken furthertraining.

“The DC would not reinstate any veterinary surgeon who they felt was still a threat to the public.”

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