The Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill went to second stage in the Dáil under Deputy Jackie Cahill’s stewardship this week. This amendment to the existing Veterinary Practice Act would ensure that veterinary practices can only be owned by licenced vets, preventing private corporate entities from buying up the sector. Cahill’s amendments to the Act passed second stage in the Dáil with near unanimous support from both the gov- ernment and opposition benches. The Bill will proceed to committee stage in the Autumn.
Speaking on this today, the Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary said: “I am delighted to receive cross-party support for the amendments I am proposing to the Veterinary Practice Act. For me, there are three main reasons that it
is important we ensure that vet practices re- mains in the ownership of licenced veterinary practitioners.
“Firstly, the Veterinary Council of Ireland must be able to regulate vet practices, and that is only possible when these practices are in the ownership of licenced vets. The council would have no regulatory power over prac- tices that are in corporate ownership because their domain only extends to licenced vets. We must retain this very important regulation over the sector for animal welfare reasons, among others.
“Secondly, we need to ensure that the profession is attractive for young vets to enter into it. This will not be the case if there are no clear career profession paths for young peo- ple to be attracted to the profession.
“Finally, in countries such as the UK, where we have seen the corporate structure take hold, we have seen the cost of services in- crease while the quality dramatically reduces. For animal welfare standards, we cannot allow a situation to develop where it is almost impossible to get a vet during the night. This, to me, would raise serious animal welfare con- cerns if a farmer couldn’t get a vet out to the farm during the night when they need one. Cahill pointed to precedent in other sectors
to justify restricting ownership of practices to practitioners saying, “In the pharmaceutical industry, licenced pharmacists have to own pharmacies, preventing a corporate model from taking hold here also, so this is by no means a novel idea to do the same with veter- inary practices, but it works.
I am delighted to see support from all parties in the Dáil for this Bill, which is very rare, including a number of rural independent groups. The committee stage is up next for legislative scrutiny and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Dáil, on both the opposition and government benches to make this legislative change happen”, Cahill concluded.