23 November 2011
The RCVS President, Dr Jerry Davies, has written to the Guardian to correct a number of inaccuracies that appeared in an article the newspaper published recently about pet insurance fraud.
The letter is set out below:
22 November 2011
Ref ‘Pet insurance fraud rises fourfold’
In her article “Pet insurance fraud rises fourfold”, Julia Kollewe outlines what appears to be a sorry state of affairs… but all is not as it might appear, as her article includes some inaccuracies.
For example, she states that vets are at liberty to choose the cheapest drug, unlike GPs. In fact, vets do not have the freedom to choose the cheapest drug available as they operate under a ‘Cascade’ system laid down by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. This states that a cheaper generic alternative cannot be used if a medical product licensed for veterinary use in the UK is available. This is important because different animal species require different formulations of medicines in order to be safe and effective.
Ms Kollewe goes on to state that “unlike human medical records, veterinary records do not follow the animal if the owner moves to a new practice” and that changing this would help reduce fraud. This is not the case. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Guide to Professional Conduct states: “a veterinary surgeon should not knowingly take over a colleague’s case without informing the colleague in question and obtaining a clinical history”. The Guide continues to say that if an owner refuses to provide information to allow such a clinical history to be obtained, the veterinary surgeon should decline to take on the patient (unless it is a genuine emergency).
The RCVS is the regulatory body for the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions in the UK. When we receive complaints about the professional conduct of a veterinary surgeon or a registered veterinary nurse, we have a duty to investigate. This has included complaints relating to insurance cases in the past, although complaints of fraud are primarily for the police to investigate.
We also attend regular meetings with the Association of British Insurers to help ensure that the potential for fraud is reduced.
If Ms Kollewe or any other member of the public has specific information about individual veterinary surgeons or registered veterinary nurses who are alleged to have been involved in any kind of insurance fraud, we would be keen to look into it, and work with the police as appropriate.
Dr Jerry Davies BVetMed PhD DVR DipECVS DipECVDI MRCVS
President, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, London