The report of a consultancy study on the development of the veterinary profession in Hong Kong was released today (May 2). The study was commissioned by the Veterinary Surgeons Board of Hong Kong (VSB) in the light of the concerns raised by some registered veterinary surgeons, Legislative Council members and members of the public about the manpower situation of the veterinary profession in Hong Kong and the level of fees charged for the veterinary services.
The consultancy study has provided an overview of the veterinary industry in Hong Kong. The number of registered veterinary surgeons in Hong Kong has increased from about 400 in 2005 to over 800 in 2016, while the number of dogs and cats kept as pets has increased from about 297 000 to 511 000 during the same period. As a result, the veterinarian-to-pet ratio, which reflects the overall situation of veterinary services, has improved.
The study has estimated that about 289 000 households kept pets (except fish) between mid-2015 and mid-2016. Among these households, about 40 per cent had taken their pets to see veterinarians during this period, while a further 30 per cent had previously visited veterinarians. The remaining 30 per cent had never taken their pets to see veterinarians. Of the households which had taken their pets to see veterinarians before, about 55 per cent were very or quite satisfied with the veterinary services in Hong Kong, 40 per cent considered them average, and about 5 per cent were very or quite dissatisfied. The majority of pet owners were very or quite satisfied with the attitude and courtesy (86 per cent) and professional knowledge (77 per cent) of veterinarians. About 45 per cent of the pet owners considered the fees and charges for veterinary service very or quite reasonable, while 48 per cent considered otherwise. The median range of annual spending on veterinary services among those who visited veterinarians between mid-2015 and mid-2016 was $2,000 to $3,000.
During the study survey in 2016, there were 146 private veterinary clinics in Hong Kong. Among them, virtually all provide services for dogs and cats, and about half for rabbits, hamsters and chinchillas. Apart from general consultations including health examinations, vaccinations and microchipping provided by all veterinary clinics, a vast majority of them also provide routine or simple surgery, on-site diagnostic test, imaging and hospitalisation services. In addition, about half of the veterinary clinics provide advanced surgery, acupuncture and vet house call or mobile services.
Apart from their basic veterinary qualifications, over one-third of the registered veterinary surgeons have veterinary post-graduate or specialist qualifications. Over three-quarters of the registered veterinary surgeons have experience of five years or more in practicing. A vast majority of the registered veterinary surgeons working in Hong Kong have indicated that they plan to practice in Hong Kong on a long-term basis. The study has also found that there are about 240 Hong Kong veterinary students at overseas universities, and about 60 per cent of them intend to come back to Hong Kong for practice within three years after graduation.
The VSB is an independent statutory authority established under the Veterinary Surgeons Registration Ordinance (Cap 529) in Hong Kong. Its mission is to safeguard the health and welfare of animals and interests of animal owners through the development and improvement of professional standards, regulation of ethical standards, registration of veterinary surgeons, and diligent exercise of disciplinary control of the professional activities of registered veterinary surgeons.
This report was commissioned by the VSB with the administrative support and assistance of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). The full report of the study is available on the VSB's website (www.vsbhk.org.hk/eng/what_news.asp) and the website of the AFCD (www.afcd.gov.hk/english/quarantine/qua_vf/files/common/VPHKFR.pdf).