A fair go for pet health

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION/NEWS -

I have had many in­ter­est­ing dis­cus­sions since the Fair Go seg­ment last month on ‘‘why vet bills are so ex­pen­sive’’.

I watched it and, fol­low­ing the del­uge of cor­re­spon­dence from view­ers, Fair Go had a an­other seg­ment the fol­low­ing week. I found both quite in­ter­est­ing.

The premise of the first re­port was that vets were ex­pen­sive and rip­ping off the pub­lic. The sec­ond, al­most apolo­getic, re­port was that there is large vari­a­tion in prices, ser­vices pro­vided, and that peo­ple should “shop around”.

Most peo­ple choose a ve­teri­nary prac­tice be­cause it is the clos­est. If they are happy with the care, the prac­tice staff and prices they will gen­er­ally stay. Some choose to go fur­ther be­cause of rec­om­men­da­tion or be­cause they have de­vel­oped a trust­ing re­la­tion­ship with a vet prac­tice. Some peo­ple will go fur­ther for a cheaper price.

Un­like the sug­ges­tion in the Fair Go pro­gramme, price is not usu­ally the main driver. Qual­ity of care is. And most ve­teri­nary prac­tices pro- vide good qual­ity care. At our prac­tice we have cho­sen to have our Pare­mata and Tawa clin­ics un­dergo in­de­pen­dent au­dit­ing to achieve ac­cred­i­ta­tion un­der the New Zealand Ve­teri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion Best Prac­tice qual­ity as­sur­ance scheme. This means clients know they are get­ting high-qual­ity ser­vices by the vets and the qual­i­fied vet nurses, and that the premises we work in and the pro­ce­dures we carry out are of a very high stan­dard.

Few clin­ics ei­ther sub­mit their prac­tices to this, or pass these stan­dards.

One of the main rea­sons there is vari­a­tion in the prices is the vari­a­tion in the prac­tices them­selves. Some of the things our ac­cred­ited clin­ics have in­clude: Only qual­i­fied vet nurses Sep­a­rate oper­at­ing theatres Spe­cial dis­ease iso­la­tion wards Pain re­lief as manda­tory for all surg­eries

Send­ing staff on cour­ses to keep them up to date with the lat­est in ve­teri­nary medicine and surgery.

Many clin­ics do not have all of this and there­fore can maybe af­ford to of­fer lower prices. How­ever, I was pleased to see that from the prices for the con­sults and surgery quoted on the Fair Go pro­gramme, our prac­tice was about in the mid­dle.

The New Zealand Ve­teri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion ad­vises peo­ple to do their home­work be­fore choos­ing whether or not to get a pet. Also con­sider pet in­sur­ance. Get your pet checked reg­u­larly to help avoid “am­bu­lance at the bot­tom of the hill” prob­lems. And se­lect a vet prac­tice that best meets your needs and bud­get.

Hav­ing a pet is a choice, and their health­care is not and should not be tax­payer- funded. The health­care provider for your pet is also a choice.

I per­son­ally would not choose my own or my fam­ily’s health­care provider solely on price.

I want qual­ity, a car­ing at­ti­tude with peo­ple I can trust, at a fair price. Most pet own­ers want the same.

Dr Ian Schraa is a se­nior vet­eri­nar­ian and owner of Rap­paw Ve­teri­nary Care.

Cost of care: Pet own­ers are en­cour­aged to find a clinic that works best for them in terms of qual­ity of care, cost and prox­im­ity.

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