A group of veterinarians has criticised Royal & Sun Alliance (RSA
) for its revised pet insurance guidelines that are allegedly ‘putting profits before the care of beloved pets’ by introducing a preferred referral network.
Vets for Choice, a coalition of 11 leading veterinary practitioners, warned that RSA
, parent company of Tesco and MoreThan insurance, is limiting freedom of choice for thousands of pet owners and leaving sick animals in danger. The group called on Tesco to scrap the new policy that was introduced in December 2015 and revert to the previous format.
Under the new policy, if a veterinary surgeon recommends a practice that is not part of the network, the pet owner may have to shell out £200 in addition to the referral practice’s bill.
The preferred referral network was criticized for not having extensive coverage across the UK. In England’s south-west, there is only one approved centre, while there are only two for the whole of Scotland.
According to the group, it is the absolute right of pet owners, upon advice of their first opinion vet, to choose the referral centre they deem appropriate for the case. The decision should consider geographical location, expertise and availability of specialist facilities.
In a statement published on their website, the veterinarian group said: “Just as in the medical profession, GP vets will explain the options for referral and recommend the specialist or referral centre that he/she considers to be the most appropriate for the case. This recommendation must be based on clinical considerations and not on financial ones. Pet owners should then be free to make their choice.”
Professor Dick White, spokesperson for Vets for Choice, added: “RSA
has adopted the same mentality to caring for much-loved pets as it has getting a car fixed. But as animal lovers across Britain will testify, the two do not compare.”