I earned more as a bin worker than a veterinary nurse | Letters

Debates surrounding the veterinary industry rage on while vet support staff and nurses, forever caught in the crossfire of abuse and accusations of heartlessness or money-grubbing, go unrecognised yet again (‘The vet presented it as: if you care, you pay’: who really profits from poorly pets?, 6 April).

I believed I’d found my calling when I qualified as a registered veterinary nurse (RVN), but the job’s stresses and thanklessness eventually overwhelmed me and I quit before the resultant depression, anxiety and accompanying eating disorder finished me off. My hourly pay was significantly less as an experienced RVN than I earned as a refuse collector just months later, and most vet support staff receive only minimum wage.

Emptying bins is heavy, unappealing, potentially dangerous work, and our refuse workers deserve every penny of their wages and more, but having done both jobs I find it appalling that I was worth less to a large veterinary company than I was to a smaller council-owned company as a manual labourer.

Surely a company with a high turnover can afford to pay its support staff appropriately. But alas, it’s more profitable to exploit the largely female workforce, socially conditioned to believe care work is their duty for which they shouldn’t expect good pay. A workforce that will quietly endure worsening conditions in inherently stressful roles until they burn out and leave, while the cycle continues as more naive, well-intentioned animal lovers replace them.

I agree: clients deserve transparency about treatment options and pricing; vets deserve to do their job without fear of abuse; and the massive corporate groups that dominate the UK veterinary industry deserve to be held to account for their profiteering. But we mustn’t forget to seek justice too for the overworked, underpaid, overlooked yet indispensable veterinary nurses and support staff.
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