A fair go for pet health
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.