ITV's Tonight programme broadcast last night portrayed a veterinary profession in which overcharging is commonplace.

Researchers for the programme took three healthy animals (a cat, a dog and a rabbit) to a number of different vets, telling them that the animals were off their food. The advice they were given varied. In the case of the rabbit from no treatment necessary, to dental work under general anaesthetic.

TV vet Marc Abraham then looked at each animal and told viewers that the correct advice in each case would have been the least expensive.

The programme also highlighted the substantial savings that pet owners can make by buying drugs online, and questioned whether the penalty meted out to a vet that had committed malpractice was sufficient (the vet had been struck off for 14 months, where presenter Jonathan Maitland argued it should have been for life).

Veterinary business consultant Mark Moran said: "So often, vets rely to a large degree on what owners are telling them, and the degree to which they insist the animal is ill, or off its food, will affect the advice and treatment given. Marc Abraham had the luxury of being presented three animals that he knew to be perfectly fit and well."

However he agreed wholeheartedly with the response from RCVS President Jill Nute this morning, that the thing both vets and pet owners need to learn from the programme is "the importance of communicating with each other".

Mark said: "It's a question of managing people's expectations. There'll always be a variance in the advice being given, but being up-front and open will help mitigate the risk of being accused of overcharging".

Click here to watch the programme.
Click here to read the reactions to Marc Abrahams' blog

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