Competition & Markets Authority: Report on Review of the Veterinary Sector

12 March 2024

The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has published (12th March) its main concerns following an initial review into the veterinary sector. It has also provisionally decided that it should launch a formal Market Investigation focused on its provisional analysis of the issues in the sector.

A Market Investigation enables the CMA to investigate its concerns in full and to intervene directly in markets if it finds that competition is not working well. Along with compelling those under investigation to provide information, it gives the CMA access to a wide range of legally enforceable remedies.

The CMA review

The CMA launched its review of the sector in September 2023 and issued a Call For Information (CFI) as part of that. This brought 56,000 responses – including 45,000 from the general public and 11,000 responses from those working in the vet industry which includes around a fifth of UK vets and veterinary nurses. The CMA also engaged extensively with, and secured feedback from, vet practices, industry bodies, charities, and others to understand the issues in the provision of these services. BSAVA submitted a joint response with other veterinary associations including BVA, SPVS, BVNA and VMG.

Although the call for information is not statistically representative of pet owners or the vet industry, the level of response demonstrates how important this issue is to millions of pet owners and those working in the sector.

The CMA’s concerns

Based on the evidence gathered so far, the CMA has 5 key concerns that it proposes to investigate further:

  • Consumers may not be given enough information to enable them to choose the best veterinary practice or the right treatment for their needs.
  • Concentrated local markets, in part driven by sector consolidation, may be leading to weak competition in some areas.
  • Large corporate groups may have incentives to act in ways which reduce choice and weaken competition.
  • Pet owners might be overpaying for medicines or prescriptions.
  • The regulatory framework is outdated and may no longer be fit for purpose.

Next steps for CMA

The CMA has launched a 4-week consultation to seek views from the sector on the proposal to launch a market investigation. The consultation closes on 11th April 2024 at which point it will consider the responses received and a decision will be made on how to proceed.

For further information on the Report of the Review access the following link CMA identifies multiple concerns in vets market For information on the consultation visit the CMA’s veterinary services case page, this includes the consultation document which sets out more details and statistics on the current update outline above.

Further Information

BSAVA will consider the CMA’s Report on the Review of the veterinary sector and continue to work with stakeholders in assessing the CMA’s findings and intentions.

Further information on the joint submission by veterinary associations to the CMA’s Review in September can be accessed via the following link https://new.bsava.com/article/joint-submission-to-cma-review/

BSAVA has produced resources to support veterinary staff in practice explain veterinary costs, manage cases on a budget and help clients manage the cost of veterinary care for their pet. Access the following background information and relevant resources via the following link https://new.bsava.com/resources/resources-for-practice/other-resources/

For quick access to the BSAVA explainer on Veterinary Costs  Access the PDF here. and for assets intended to manage Veterinary medicine on a budget Access the PDF here.