The corporate practices in Veterinary Medicine

In the UK there are a growing number of practices that are owned, created or bought by corporate practices. A corporate practice is owned by a company rather than a person or group of people. This is because in the UK it is possible for non-veterinarians to own a veterinary practice. It’s a good idea for you to know what they are if you plan on working in the UK – you might end up working in a corporate practice – or wanting to!

A corporate practice will have several branches, all with the same “franchise”. That means the practices that belong to the same corporate group look similar and should work in similar ways. They have some advantages, as Dave Nicol (2012) suggests:

  • Large businesses will normally have several departments – making management a separate issue
    • They have protocols to create working contracts and pay in time
    • They normally hire permanent locums to cover for holidays
  • They will have more financial power to purchase high-quality equipment
  • They might have protocols for vets and nurses to follow regarding specific procedures
  • They have good marketing
  • They can buy other practices or facilitate the opening of a franchised practice by a veterinary surgeon wanting to open his own place, but lacking financial power to do so on his own

However, sometimes corporate practices are thought of as having a “make money” approach rather than being primarily focused on the care of their patients. It seems clear, though, that without good medicine they wouldn’t be able to retain their clients. There are some points possibly perceived as disadvantages that are important for corporate practices:

  • Large companies might make you feel that you’re not really being heard or valued
  • Sometimes decisions that should be clinical or rely on clinical facts are undertaken by people from other departments – for instance, regarding the purchase of new medical equipment

Corporate Practices in the UK

There are some well-known corporate practices:

  • CVS is one of the largest (if not the largest!) corporate practice in the UK
  • IVC also has a large number of practices
  • Medivet
  • Vets4Pets is a model of joint venture partnership – the veterinary joins with the company, which provides infrastructure and services like HR, administration and finances
  • Companion Care has merged with Vets4Pets
  • VetPartners is a fairly new corporation but they have been buying a large number of practices in northern England and Scotland

There are others, such as VetsNow or the Goddard Veterinary Group, that have quite a lot of branches and are run like corporate practices but are not corporates (not owned by a company). You will also find that some large referral hospitals are owned by larger corporate groups (such as the Linnaeus Group).

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