The body representing Irish vets said it “is considering a legal challenge” following changes by the Veterinary Council of Ireland relating to the ownership of veterinary practices and the practice of veterinary medicine.

As exclusively revealed by the Irish Farmers Journal last week, the way in which vet practices are owned and operated in Ireland is set to change.

This comes on foot of legal advice sought by the Veterinary Council of Ireland about who can and cannot own a veterinary practice. The advice states non-vets can own a practice. This opens the door for venture capital-led groups to acquire Irish vets. Venture capitalists have been acquiring businesses in the UK.

The Irish Farmers Journal understands a venture capital group has already brokered a deal with at least one vet practice in the Republic of Ireland in recent weeks.

These type of groups in the UK do not treat calving events as emergencies and only commit to reaching a farmer’s yard within three hours of being called out.

Veterinary Ireland said it will pursue legal avenues “if it is apparent that the Veterinary Council intends to apply a change contrary to the Veterinary Practice Act 2005”.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Conor Geraghty of Veterinary Ireland said the body is gravely concerned that such a move will change the landscape of veterinary services in Ireland.

“Having people on call all the time doesn’t make financial sense but it’s what vets do. We do it in order to deliver the best possible service to farmers.”

Geraghty said Veterinary Ireland is “seeking immediate clarifications” from the Veterinary Council of Ireland over the changes.

“The whole thing seems very rushed. There was no consultation with vets, with farm organisations or, to the best of my knowledge, with the Department of Agriculture.

“It would seem that they [the council] wanted to get the changes through.

“There are 19 on the council and there are 13 new people joining it from January so, from the outside looking in, it seems like they rushed the whole thing through.

“We need to talk to the council before exploring what options are open to us,” Geraghty said.

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