Vet practices could be missing out on as much as £530 million

Vet practices could be missing out on as much as £530 million

Veterinary practices in the UK could be missing out on up to £530 million owed to them, as small businesses in the UK experience escalating levels of late payments. DSL UK, which provides debt recovery services dedicated to the veterinary sector, estimates the amount owed to vet practices to be between £265 million and £530 million a year based on an estimated bad debt level of five to ten per cent of turnover.* The company urges practices to act promptly to address the trend and improve practice cash flow, especially as debts followed up within 30 days are much more likely to be recovered.

DSL UK has collected an impressive £16 million for its customers since its inception in 2006 – a sum equivalent to approximately 320,000 veterinary consultations – and is concerned about the trend of increasing late payments. Martin Jackson, Operations Director at DSL UK, comments, “We encourage veterinary practices to address their outstanding accounts swiftly to improve cash flow. We consistently find that 30 per cent of unpaid debts are collected within the first 30 days, and often a friendly reminder is all that’s needed.”

The rising levels of late payments are hampering small businesses and have dampened expectations of growth through 2024, according to research by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The share of small businesses experiencing late payments rose to nearly two in three by the end of 2023, and the proportion of small firms whose late payments worsened over the final quarter of the year rose to over a third.1

“Some basic actions can be very effective in reducing levels of unpaid debt in veterinary practices,” says Mike Brooks, Chairman of the DSL Group. “Effectively utilising your PMS and performing regular aged debt reports helps you identify outstanding accounts swiftly and take prompt action.”

Other advice shared by DSL UK for reducing unpaid debts in vet practices is to make sure that basic client information is captured, contact details are accurate, and that vet teams are confident in talking about money with pet owners.

“Ensure that both clinical and front of house staff are empowered to discuss finances with clients,” advised Mike. “This helps clinicians to offer contextualised care, including considering the client’s financial resources; and receptionists can gain an early awareness of when clients may be struggling to meet the cost of veterinary care. These steps can help minimise the amount of unpaid debt in your practice.”

If practices feel they need additional help with credit control or debt recovery, engaging the services of a specialist debt recovery service can take the pressure off. By partnering with practices, DSL UK allows veterinary professionals to focus on delivering excellent care to their patients, while the company handles the complexities of debt collection. This partnership approach ensures that practices can maintain strong relationships with their clients, as DSL UK manages the often-delicate process of collecting overdue payments with compassion, sensitivity and professionalism.

DSL UK are partnered suppliers of SPVS, VMG and Buysure, whose members can benefit from preferential rates and a free debt toolkit.

For more information on how DSL UK can help reduce levels of unpaid debt in veterinary practices, visit

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