Livestock farmers could face higher production costs after legislation stopping vets from charging for prescriptions was revoked.
FW livestock editor Jonathan Long comments:
“The changes would mainly affect farmers asking their vet to prescribe drugs which were then purchased from another pharmacy.
“For those farmers purchasing prescription drugs from their usual vet there will be little noticeable change, although some may charge for prescribing drugs now.
“However, some vets may now attempt to give regular clients a prescription charge too – this shouldn’t be necessary.”
“All vets must now make sure their charges are transparent – so that farmers understand any changes,” said Nick Blaney of the British Veterinary Association (BVA).
The three-year ban from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was revoked on 1 November. The DTI wanted to promote competition by persuading farmers to try online pharmacies.
In fact, only 41% of large animal practises were asked for free prescriptions – and only 8% of those had issued more than 15 prescriptions in the past year, a survey by the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) showed.
Mr Blaney called the changes a “return to normality”, but he also warned that vets will now be “much tougher”.
“Many Northern vets have been left with hundreds of thousands of pounds’-worth of bluetongue vaccine in their fridges, which farmers ordered then failed to collect.
“They won’t be so ready to pay for the vaccines next time. In fact, many ‘village vets’ are quitting – they know that they can make more money treating pets.”
DEFRA’s vets and vet services group is looking into the provision of veterinary services in rural areas.
Their work should conclude later this year.