July 2nd 2024

Preparing for the Upcoming CMA Market Investigation: A Guide for New Vets

The veterinary industry is on the cusp of significant scrutiny as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) moves towards a formal market investigation. Triggered by an initial review that garnered over 56,000 responses from both the public and the veterinary sector, the investigation aims to address several critical concerns. For new veterinarians entering the field, understanding these issues and preparing accordingly is crucial. Here’s how you can gear up for the forthcoming investigation.

Understand the Key Concerns

The CMA’s review has highlighted several areas of concern that new vets should be aware of:

Consumer Information and Choice

Issue: Clients may not have adequate information to make informed decisions about which veterinary practice to choose or what treatments are best for their pets.

How to prepare: Ensure transparency in all communications with pet owners. Provide clear, comprehensive information about services, treatments, and pricing. Consider developing easy-to-understand brochures or digital content that explains various treatment options and their benefits.

Market Concentration and Competition

Issue: The consolidation of veterinary practices into larger corporate groups is leading to less competition in local markets, potentially limiting choices for consumers.

How to prepare: If you’re working in or planning to join a corporate group, be mindful of the competitive landscape in your area. Advocate for fair pricing and practices that promote healthy competition. Stay informed about local market dynamics and be ready to discuss how your practice maintains competitive and consumer-friendly operations.

Corporate Influence:

Issue: Large corporate groups may have incentives that could reduce consumer choice and weaken market competition.

How to prepare: Whether in a corporate or independent practice, prioritise ethical practices and care over corporate incentives. Ensure your recommendations and treatments are in the best interest of the pets and their owners. Transparency and integrity should be at the forefront of your practice.

Overpricing of Medicines:

Issue: Pet owners may be overpaying for medications and prescriptions.

How to prepare: Be knowledgeable about the pricing of medications and offer cost-effective alternatives when possible. Educate pet owners about the availability of generic medications and that could save them money. Transparency in pricing will build trust and loyalty among your clients.

Outdated Regulatory Framework:

Issue: The current regulatory framework may be outdated and not conducive to a fair and competitive market.

How to prepare: Stay informed about regulatory changes and participate in professional forums and discussions about industry regulations. Advocate for updates that promote transparency, fairness, and consumer protection. Being proactive in regulatory matters can position you as a forward-thinking professional committed to improving the industry.

Practical Steps Vets Can Take

Enhance Communication Skills:

Clear and empathetic communication with pet owners is key. Ensure you can explain complex medical information in an accessible manner and provide all necessary details for informed decision-making.

Stay Informed:

Keep up with the latest news about the CMA investigation and understand its implications. Attend industry seminars, webinars, and read relevant publications to stay ahead of the curve.

Educate Yourself on Business Practices:

Understand the business side of veterinary practice, including pricing strategies, cost management, and customer service. Knowledge in these areas will help you navigate the challenges posed by the investigation.

The upcoming CMA market investigation presents both challenges and opportunities for new vets. By understanding the key concerns and preparing accordingly, you can navigate these changes successfully. Transparency, ethical practice, and continuous education will be your pillars in adapting to a potentially transformed veterinary landscape. Stay informed, engage actively with the industry, and always prioritise the well-being of the animals in your care.

As always, we encourage any vets with concerns or questions to get in touch with the VCMS.

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