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Vet futures
Survey suggests public trusts vets

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VETERINARY surgeons are among the most trusted professionals in Great Britain, according to the results of a national opinion poll.

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The poll of 2002 adults was carried out by the research organisation ICM, having been commissioned as part of the joint BVA-RCVS Vet Futures project, which aims to help the veterinary profession prepare for and shape its own future.

Asked how satisfied they were with the service they received from a range of different professions, 78 per cent of those responding said that they were either satisfied, or very satisfied, with the service from their veterinary surgeon. This placed veterinary surgeons behind pharmacists (87 per cent of respondents satisfied), opticians (82 per cent) and dentists (79 per cent), but ahead of GPs (77 per cent), solicitors (56 per cent) and accountants (55 per cent).

Asked how much they trusted various professions, 94 per cent of respondents said they either completely trusted, or generally trusted, veterinary surgeons, placing them third in the rankings. This compared to 97 per cent of respondents who trusted pharmacists and 95 per cent who trusted opticians. GPs were trusted by 93 per cent of respondents, dentists by 90 per cent and solicitors by 72 per cent.

The survey also found that, among the animal owners in the respondents, 7 per cent rated their veterinary practice as being ‘excellent’ value for money, 24 per cent as being ‘good’ value, 38 per cent as being ‘fair’ value, 20 per cent as being ‘poor’ value and 10 per cent as being ‘very poor’ value.

Commenting on the findings, Stuart Reid, the RCVS President, said that, as part of the Vet Futures project, the BVA and RCVS had felt that it was essential to gain a deeper understanding of how the general public perceived the veterinary profession.

‘The results are extremely encouraging, particularly in relation to how well the public trusts members of the profession, including both animal owners and non-animal owners,’ he said. ‘But it is also clear that there is more to be done in relation to public perceptions of value for money. We will explore these issues further as the Vet Futures project progresses and we are keen to hear ideas from all members of the veterinary team.’

John Blackwell, the BVA President, said, ‘The veterinary profession sets itself very high standards and we know from our own member research that vets are particularly concerned, and sometimes worried, about how their clients – and wider society – perceive them. So it is particularly heartening to learn that the general public holds the profession in such high regard in relation to trust.

‘Vets also score well in relation to the levels of satisfaction experienced by clients, and practices constantly strive to improve the service they deliver to their patients and animal owners.’

He explained that, through the Vet Futures project, the BVA and RCVS hoped to raise awareness of the wide range of essential roles carried out by veterinary surgeons. ‘Vets should be proud to be part of one of the most trusted professions in Britain,’ he concluded.

■Each month, the Vet Futures website,, features a ‘topic of the month’ blog and a poll on the subject raised. The topic discussed in May has been hospice care for animals, and whether this will become a standard part of practice. In the blog, Kath Dyson, a retired veterinary surgeon, notes that veterinary palliative care is a relatively recent phenomenon but has been growing in stature, particularly in the USA. She also points out that an increasing number of UK vets offer hospice care. She discusses the advantages and disadvantages of palliative care versus euthanasia. The accompanying poll asks whether hospice care for animals at the end of their lives should become a standard part of veterinary practice. As this issue of Veterinary Record went to press on May 27, 117 people had voted, with 60 (51 per cent) saying that hospice care should not become part of standard practice, 34 (29 per cent) saying that it should, and 23 (20 per cent) being unsure.

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