Vet David Thomson MRCVS, writes a letter to RCVS “I am sending this email to a governing body that I used to hold in great esteem.”

My letter to the RCVS

I am dictating this letter so my spelling and grammar may be incorrect for that I apologise.

It is with a heavy heart and a lot of depressive soul searching that I am sending this email to a governing body that I used to hold in great esteem.

I am David Thomson a graduate from London 1976 (2002017), and have seen changes in my once beloved profession that are really upsetting me.

I held my hand up in 1976 with pride which I then stated
“” ” I PROMISE AND SOLEMNLY DECLARE that I will pursue the work of my profession with integrity and accept my responsibilities to the public, my clients, the profession and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and that, ABOVE ALL, my constant endeavour will be to ensure the health and welfare of animals committed to my care.”””

In no way did I agree to or how can I condone the following reply I had from the RCVS.

“” You may also wish to review information from Chapter 9 of the RCVS Supporting Guidance which comments on this issue. This says:

“9.16 Where a client cannot afford to pay the fee for veterinary treatment, the veterinary surgeon may wish to discuss the availability of charitable services or assistance with the client.
9.17 All charities have a duty to apply their funds to make the best possible use of their resources. Clients should contact the charity to confirm their eligibility for assistance. The veterinary surgeon should ensure that the animal’s condition is stabilised so that the animal is fit to travel to the charity, and provide details of the animal’s condition, and any treatment already given, to the charity.

9.18 where the client is not eligible for the charitable assistance and no other form of financial assistance can be found, euthanasia may have to be the considered on economic grounds”.””

I work in Stoke on Trent and have done since November 1976.

The problems with our profession goes way back.
When I started I was only allowed to put a plaque up! Then came advertising being allowed so that that loudest advert attracted the most clients and so on.

Then insurance started with pet plan , and as an idea I thought that was excellent but with the caveat that I thought all practices would put their prices up to encourage insurance.

Specialisation was started in 80’s which meant that apart from ringing the colleges for advice previously , and doing the surgery ourselves, in some cases we could send the more intractable cases to these specialists.

Then came corporation of veterinary practices , and practices now being able to be run by NON VETS and then the corporates started to takeover.

This was all the logical evolution of the guidance from the RCVS eroding the very fabric and core of the profession by way of handing over welfare of animals for corporate greed.

I am so unhappy that the veterinary profession , once beloved by the masses is now considered a profession of greed avarice and uncaring.

The first question in a consultation is now “ are you insured “ NOT “ how can I help you”

It says in 9-16 that the charities should help.
How? They are strapped for cash, the PDSA in our area has virtually closed its lists , there is no Blue Cross, the veterinary practices are taking on no more new clients , and the end result is the the RSPCA is more interested in prosecuting those people who fail to provide veterinary attention for their animals even though they cannot get into a practice.

The end result is a massive distrust of vets , their pricing and their interest in money rather welfare.

A client is now asked for their credit card number before treatment begins this is illogical as how does the client know how much is going to be charged this brings us back to the whole point of welfare.

There is an undercurrent now of a massive rejection of Veterinary Services and an underworld of treatment and purchasing of drugs is inevitably starting. There is a gentleman I’m told that you can’t get any drug whether it be tablet or injections or vaccinations and he is not a vet. Where is he getting these drugs from.

Why is it that we cannot purchase drugs at the same price or near to those of the Prescription companies? I tell you that for an example, Meticam cost me £45 plus but you can buy it online for £22. How do we compete .
Once prescriptions where given without charge , a compulsory mandatory edict from the VMD, but now have to be paid for can and be charged at whatever price the vet practice decides.

My son is a Ferrier and tell me of horrendous stories from his clients the most recent one being of a dog with a small quarter inch cut which had been taken to the vet they suggested it needed full anaesthetic to to be stitched, the owner refused and the practice agreed to sedate the dog and put in the two stitches and charge £540.

I ask you is this reasonable.
Years ago, I said to then President of the Royal College, we are not Brain surgeons we treat animals and I think that has been forgotten and these price rises are just incredulous.

A local vet practice boarded a dog overnight at a cost which my wife and I could’ve stayed at the Savoy hotel for two nights. This begs the question where is the Royal College of Surgeons advising it’s Vet Surgeons on a mandate for providing welfare because how can a little old lady with her Yorkie be a bad owner because she can’t afford £1000 bill.
We have forgotten all of our standards. We have forgotten who we are, We have forgotten we used to sort things out without the need for specialist, but they were useful .

The modern Vet I am told is not competent to do a bitch under two years of graduation. How can that be? I was doing orthopaedic procedures within six months of qualifying and doing all emergency procedures, gastric torsions,fb removal etc etc.

Why is it that the young Vet who can do a bitch spay feels pressurised to refer a gastrotomy to remove a stone. I ask you, which is the more simple procedure.

This brings me to the point of specialisation and the problem it creates for veterinary surgeons, because now new graduates are not able to handle flesh and gain experience with routine non-elective surgeries we are becoming like Doctors in the human field whereby they see the first opinion cases but refer everything to consultants. This obviously increases costs.

This level of specialisation is exactly what the corporates are looking for as they will control the day-to-day running of all Vet practices eventually, and there will be no young Vets able to do any routine surgery as all will be referred at an extra cost of course.

What is the Royal College doing about this? What is the Royal College been doing for the last 30 years in not seeing what was happening, this new edict in September has only fuelled an increasingly annoyed general public to the extent now we are derided.

I’ve been working for over 45 years. My consultation fee is still only £15 and I make a profit. I have run a practice with 7 Vets 30 staff and deliberately kept the prices down in our area as the people of Stoke-on-Trent are getting into a desperate state to the point that they virtually can’t afford to have animals if they have to be treated. they are offered the” final solution” to be euthanised or as this is so expensive now for euthanasia the client will take matters into his own hands .

This is not an exaggeration even I have advised a professional dog trainer with a older dog with a broken leg to have it put to sleep rather than pay the £5000 to repair it as you can get seven puppies for that price.

Worse than this, I have x-rays of a dog involved in an RTA which fractured its pelvis. The dog was walking eating but in some discomfort x-rays were taken to show a small pelvic fracture which the Vet practice said would cost £9000 to repair. I Advised the client to rest the dog and give it Meticam, this dog is now fine, and when I showed these x-rays to a human orthopaedic consultant he questioned, why was it even necessary to consider surgery.

I have always gone by the mantra that it all surgery. You should first do no harm.

It appears now that any surgery is done so that the profit can be made.

How can this state of affairs be stopped? Where is the leadership from the Royal College about the welfare of animals?

I agree that you deal with standards, but how about dealing with welfare standards not just veterinary standards.

At one time Veterinary graduates used to come from parents in veterinary practices farming, game, conservation and medical practitioners and Surgeons, those people had the means and the attitudes that are enabled them to overcome issues that faced them, it would appear that the new graduates are not the same mantra, but rather led by protocol and are prepared just to pass the buck on and this seems to be the way the Royal College wants it to go so the animals are seen by specialist who unfortunately have their own pricing structure, and so the poor client is just screwed .
We need to get back to the time when the Animal is what is important, not finance.

I have so much more I could say I could talk and explain so much more. I’ve been trying to say this for 10 years and especially in the last five years I’ve written to newspapers I’ve written to the Royal College but I am only this one small Voice and nobody is listening, soonwe will not have a Vet profession. It will all go underground. How can you expect people to pay these fees these exorbitant fees £40,000 for a fractured leg where does that come from and how are these fees sustainable in the long run?

I am 73 years old now I’ve seen it all and I am so depressed. It is affected my marriage and my health, but I will not retire while I can still help those people who cannot afford these so-called veterinary fees as my conscience will not allow me to stop working .
When I raised my hand. I did not say I didn’t care, do you?

David Thomson MRCVS

Facebook post 25th March 2024

David, Thomson, MRCVS, returns to Facebook on 17 April 2024 with an update to his previous post:

The welfare of animals ,
the story continues

I am astounded at the response I have received from you the public and I’m gratified and feel empowered by your responses , as after 2.5k shares and over 1.5k comments, after my last post, I think it’s time I put some of your views and my ideas forward .

Veterinary drugs and treatments are expensive, but the welfare of our animals and clients together with stress and mental health of our Veterinary Surgeons and Veterinary staff should be a priority unfortunately now it seems that the corporates are in such a strong position in the veterinary world and are able to make profit led marketing decisions forcing protocols on veterinary surgeons and staff when they are dealing with clients and influencing the perception of welfare of animals.

The CMA recommendations coming shortly will probably play no part in controlling how the corporate practices will continue to operate world wide and what if any role that the royal college can do to change corporate practices to further the welfare of animals.

Instead we need to look at veterinary treatment in different way because if we keep on looking backwards at all that has happened and has been discussed , all we will get is a sore neck.

What has happened has happened and we need to look forward to really debate on how we can improve the welfare of our animals, and clients as well as the stress put on Vet Surgeons and staff who have been put in an invidious position due to the perception of clients thinking they are being overcharged.

We need to get back to some of the basics of which our profession was so good at years ago.

We need to use the knowledge that we attained either as new graduates who have so much fresh knowledge or the older veterinary Surgeons who have so much experience.

The art of Veterinary medicine and science has in many cases been put on a back burner as the gold standard required by the Royal College is more related standards to be attained in veterinary specialities .

The investments required nowadays to set up a veterinary practice are huge, but as in human medicine, not all GP practices have CT scanners and MRI scanners on site .

We need to think that our Vet surgeons are more like “GPs”
They need to understand what you the client is trying to say as a history, as no one knows your animal better than you, and with an open mind and with all the knowledge they have , to make a tentative diagnosis and then try to make a plan with you to improve the condition
of your companion.
This may not be a cure, but it is to make the life of your companion better.

Sometimes simple treatments given initially produce great effects, and working with these improvements , your pet may have a better quality of life than before.

Neither Doctors nor Vets can put back time , and no treatment can do that either.
My father, a human surgeon used to say to me, we all have the right to die but all we can is to hope to die peacefully at the right time and I think sometimes the welfare of animals does not allow us to say these words “I’m sorry it’s the right time,” but rather some practices look to end of life care plans and try and to prolong the life of those which have lived their life .

we must remember we are treating animals they are our companions and we must remember that compassion is essential part of veterinary treatment .

I propose and put forward the view to that we should consider that the art of Vet medicine be considered as the primary method for initial diagnosis and then subsequent treatment, Initially to see how the animal improves which in turn will keep the cost down so looking after the client’s perception, but if the animals need further tests , x-rays etc and specialist care that can and should be determined by the case at hand in consultation with the client.
Do we need to put cannulas in for every operation?

Do we need to sedate or anaesthetise a dog for one or two stitches. Can’t we lance abscess without having to sedate,for that is done in a lot of cases in human A &E, and if it’s good enough for humans, surely we can consider doing the same.
Why has treating animals become more expensive than treating humans in a lot of cases,
I’m not suggesting that we would become barbaric but perhaps become more practical and pragmatic in what we do.

I would like to see more research done on the appropriate means and simpler methods of treating animals.

Some Animals needing hospitalisation and observation overnight may be under much less stress by sending them home as you will also have looking after them the best nurse in the world, “the owner” .

I feel so much has changed that we forgotten to use our basic skills. My father also said why do we need to use the most expensive drug and the most expensive test when in fact, sometimes the simpler drug will do 80% as well and give a reasonable outcome .

We should not be doing x-rays to find what’s wrong. We should have a tentative diagnosis and the x-rays are just confirmation .

The London vet symposium were questioning why so many animals were being scanned. I believe the MRI scan CT scan is a brilliant diagnostic tool, but it has to be used correctly after and only after you’ve considered all the other options.

The problem it seems in some case that Vets are no longer using all their learnt diagnostic skills before starting tests,
they need to concentrate on what the owners are saying, or “not saying” so as to determine the next course of action “simples ! ” yes but not if you have been instructed you “need” to do this test and that test, are these additional tests really necessary, in some cases, Yes ! , I agree they probably are but NOT every case.
Why as Vets do we not try a simpler route, science has come a long way, but the art seems to have gone and with it the knowledge of what we have learnt about animals.
Think about what you’re doing and in thinking not only will you get a better response from your clients you’ll probably improve the welfare of the animals.

All the client really wants is for their little dog or cat (or other animals!) to improve and get well not necessarily cured but to get better.

This way the outcome may be a smaller bill which will make the client happier , and that will reduce your stress and because you are in communication with the client about further tests if needed , they will know and understand what you’re doing and be able to understand any further costs if needed.

We need to think more how the client perceives the course of action we are taking to improve the welfare of their animal.

Unfortunately some corporates create protocols that seem to insist on so many different tests needed to be done and you as Client need to ask the question are these all these tests really needed.

Do you really need to do a blood test to see if the Animal will be well in five years time , remember all the client wants is for their Pet to be well today, tomorrow is another day and that time will come and what do you say and do will determine on how that client sees your actions.

There is no doubt that not everybody can afford Veterinary fees and because of that they think badly of veterinary practices.

A lot of unease has been created by profit oriented corporate owned practices and that has filtered into the minds of clients about veterinary practices in general.

Our life is stressful enough as veterinary Surgeons not to create further stresses so have some compassion and think on how would you like to be treated ,think what would be best for your friend and companion.

Veterinary surgeons are humans and have taken on a true vocation and have vowed to try to alleviate pain and suffering in the animals they are treating , they have feelings and empathy to these animals and will try to help answer your questions even in those dark times, remember they feel the pain too.

Original post on Facebook:

This is in response to the Consultation on the proposal to make a market investigation reference into veterinary services for household pets in the UK open until 5pm on 11th April 2024

If you think vet medication and treatments have skyrocketed over the last few years, since the corporate takeover of the veterinary profession. Please email the Government. Send your experience to: