There are two main operating models in the UK for veterinary practices, they are commonly known as independent and corporate. When choosing a veterinary practice for your animal’s care it’s useful to know the difference.
Historically in the UK the most common model for vets was the independent practice, like Beacon View Vets. Independent practices are owned and operated by an individual or small group of vets.
Corporate practices on the other hand are owned by a corporation and are one of many branches in a chain; regionally or nationally. Corporations are usually formed of a board of directors, shareholders, and clinical directors in assigned surgeries. Often the directors of these corporations are not vets.
All vets, whether working in an independent or corporate practice, will have your pet’s best interest at heart. However, due to the corporate framework in which they operate the way in which your pet receives care can be impacted.
Family-style independent practices, like Beacon View Vets tend to have a lower rate of staff turnover, meaning you are more likely to see the same friendly faces each time you visit and receive excellent continuity of care.
Independent vets are not governed by corporate policies and procedures when it comes to making decisions on the best course of treatment for your pet. By the nature of a corporate business model, corporate vets are influenced by shareholder profit. This means in some rare cases business targets can impact on care decisions such as medication choice or standard operating procedures.
Additionally, in some corporate structures certain decisions may need approval from head office, which can result in a delay before treatment is started. Independent vets generally have the freedom to make all treatment decisions in house, immediately.
Increasingly, in the UK independent practices are becoming less common as corporates are buying up independent practices and competing against each other for market share. Corporatisation in the UK currently stands at around 65-70%. Often when an independent practice is purchased by a corporate the corporate won’t change the name or appearance of the practice, but the structure and procedures behind the practice inevitably do.
Hopefully this has helped to explain the different types of vet practice models in the UK. If you have any questions or would like more information please contact us.