Sustainability policies and practises at veterinary centres in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland

Laura Higham*, Z J Halfacree, Joanna Stonehewer, D.H. Black, G. Ravetz, Dominic Moran, Lisa Boden, C. Oxtoby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Veterinary professionals operate at the human-animal-environment interface and are concerned about sustainability issues. This study examined the extent to which sustainability is represented in policy and enacted in veterinary practice settings, as reported by practice representatives.
Methods: An online survey was completed by 392 veterinary centre representatives in the UK and Republic of Ireland, to identify existing policies and practises around the environmental impacts of veterinary services and animal husbandry, responsible medicine use, animal welfare and social wellbeing.
Results: A minority of respondents were aware of an environmental policy at their practice (17%, 68/392). Many others were undertaking waste reduction initiatives, but wider environmental interventions were infrequently reported. The majority were aware of medicine stewardship and animal welfare policies or guidelines, but a minority reported social wellbeing policies (40%, 117/289) and the provision of advice to clients on the environmental impacts of animal husbandry (31%, 92/300).
Conclusion: Results depict a value-action gap between the concern of veterinary professionals towards sustainability, and the policies and practises at their workplaces. Building on progress in the sector, wider adoption of comprehensive policies and practises, with guidance, could enhance veterinary contributions to the sustainability agenda, in particular to mitigate the environmental externalities of veterinary services and animal care, and ensure safe, fair and inclusive workplaces.
Limitations: The bias arising from the small convenience sample of practice representatives, and potential discrepancies between the claims of survey respondents and their practices’ policies and activities, are acknowledged.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2998
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalVeterinary Record
Issue number3
Early online date25 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2023


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