Vet Futures, the joint initiative by the RCVS and the BVA to help the profession prepare for and shape its own futureVet Futures, the joint initiative by the RCVS and the BVA to help the profession prepare for and shape its own future, has published a guest blog in which an academic argues that the profession needs to introduce safeguards to prevent inappropriate profit-seeking behaviour.

David Main is Professor of Animal Welfare at the School of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Bristol, with research interests in welfare assessment, animal welfare education and intervention strategies to improve welfare.

In his blog (, Professor Main says he believes the vast majority of individual veterinary surgeons and practices are not motivated by money and do have animals’ best interests at heart, but that the differences between the business structure of veterinary and medical practitioners in the UK means the profession is always at risk of standing accused of excessive profiteering. 

He said: “Since we still live in the age of the media scare story, it would seem prudent for the profession to embed some anti-profit seeking safeguards in our regulatory controls before, rather than after, a problem is highlighted.” One suggestion he makes is for the prohibition of turnover-based incentive schemes in favour of incentives based on health outcomes. 

He believes that such safeguards, which he says could be incorporated into the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme, would be a “healthy demonstration” that the profession has animal welfare rather than profit as its main priority.

Professor Main also argues that the profession urgently needs to deliver on society’s expectation of vets as animal welfare experts: “Veterinarians could perhaps... do more at an individual level to act as animal welfare advocates. It is easy to inform clients on the technical rationale for a specific husbandry change but then walk away knowing full well the client will not action the advice. In the medical profession, advanced communication techniques are becoming more widely accepted to promote positive change within their patients. Perhaps we should be more explicit in teaching our veterinary students influencing skills.”

In response to David’s blog, this month’s Vet Futures poll asks visitors ‘Do vets always act as animal welfare advocates?’

The previous month’s poll, which was based on an article co-written by Erwin Hohn and Adi Nell from MediVet, asked to what extent vets would be willing to work collaboratively with others if it would benefit all. Of the 50 people who answered the poll, 60% said they would be completely willing to work with others, 32% a lot and 8% to some degree – no one said they would be unwilling to work with others.


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