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ITV 'Pets undercover': RCVS response

17 March 2009

Please note: This is an archived news story. Mr Ranes Kumar Sanyal MRCVS was restored to the RCVS Register of Members on 22 May 2007 and he is therefore currently entitled to practise as a veterinary surgeon in the UK.

"The main message that pet owners and veterinary surgeons should take home from last night's Tonight programme is the importance of communicating with each other."

So says RCVS President Jill Nute after watching ITV Tonight presenter Jonathan Maitland's report - 'Pets undercover' - on the types of treatment and level of veterinary fees charged by some members of the veterinary profession.

"There is no National Health Service for animals. Veterinary treatment, like private medical or non-NHS dental treatment, can sometimes become expensive, especially in an emergency, so it is vital that vets always tell their clients the likely cost of treatment as soon as possible, and present a range of different treatment options."

This advice mirrors the guidance already set out in the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct, by which all veterinary surgeons are expected to abide.

Jill continues, "Equally, clients should always be prepared to ask their vet about the potential costs of treatment and medicines, and about what other options there might be. If the client has any concerns, they should either shop around for better value, or ask for a second opinion."

Inevitably, although Jill was interviewed by Mr Maitland for over an hour, less than two minutes was used in the actual broadcast.

Elsewhere in her interview, Jill had agreed that most animal owners were right to be concerned over whether there was sufficient regulation of veterinary fees, but maintained that this was largely down to the control of market forces, not the RCVS.

She had emphasised that the College could step in where high fees might constitute serious professional misconduct, but cautioned that the Office of Fair Trading would take a very dim view of a professional regulator attempting to introduce price-fixing. "This was not in the public's interest," she'd said.

However, Jill had some concern about the way in which the profession had generally been portrayed in the programme. "In my 39 years of practice, I seem to have seen a very different side to the profession," she said.

"In any profession, there will always be a few individuals who give the rest a bad name, and we do a fair job in investigating the complaints that we receive about these individuals. However, the vast majority of veterinary surgeons are honest, caring, conscientious and extremely hard-working professionals, with their patients' and clients' best interests at heart."

"Marc Abraham [the veterinary surgeon featured in the programme] did, however, make some important points about financial incentives for veterinary surgeons, and this is something that the College will look at."

Turning to Tonight's coverage of the RCVS inquiry into Mr Ranes Sanyal and the accusation that he should not have been restored to the Register, Jill emphasised that Mr Sanyal had been found guilty of serious professional misconduct, and drew Mr Maitland's attention to the severity of the College's original sanction against him, including the acute stigma and severe financial penalty of being struck off.

Referring to the extra training (particularly in pharmacy and bandaging) that Mr Sanyal had received since being struck off, Jill said: "He had paid his penalty, he had shown contrition, and he had also undertaken further training.

"The DC would not reinstate any veterinary surgeon who they felt was still a threat to the public."

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