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Clarification letter sent to Daily Mail
1 December 2011
The RCVS President, Dr Jerry Davies, has written to the Daily Mail to clarify a number of points that were raised in an article the newspaper published yesterday about pet insurance fraud.
The letter is set out below:
Ref ‘Owners who maim their pets for insurance’
The cases outlined in the article by Tom Rawstorne (‘Owners who maim their pets for insurance’) in yesterday’s issue of the Daily Mail (30 November 2011), do not make for happy reading. Sadly, in this nation of animal lovers, there are those who abuse their pets – either for financial gain or other motives.
However, the article implies that the veterinary profession is also widely complicit in cases of insurance fraud: “Vets are well placed to inflate bills in the knowledge that their clients can pass on the costs to the insurance company.” We do not have evidence to suggest there is a widespread problem and would like to reassure your readers of that. Although we have seen one or two cases, including the one outlined in the article and which was heard by our Disciplinary Committee, these isolated cases need to be considered in the context of the millions of vet-client interactions taking place each year.
The article also suggests that vets may charge for expensive medicines while using a cheaper alternative. In fact, vets do not have the freedom to choose the cheapest medicine available, as they operate under a ‘Cascade’ system laid down by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). This states that the medicines tested and licensed for use in any particular species of animal, whether cat, dog, horse or cow, must be used in preference to a human generic equivalent to ensure safety and efficacy. The VMD states that “medicines not authorised for veterinary use represent an undefined risk to the patient, owner, consumer and environment”, which has relevance both to companion and food-producing animals.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has a duty to investigate complaints about veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses (RVNs). We also attend regular meetings with the Association of British Insurers and generally work with the police if we receive any complaint involving alleged fraud. If any member of the public has information about individual veterinary surgeons or RVNs being involved in alleged insurance fraud, we would be keen to look into it.
Dr Jerry Davies BVetMed PhD DVR DipECVS DipECVDI MRCVS