Our latest update (29 May 2020):
As the government is slowly easing lockdown, we felt that now was a good time to update our clients by outlining our longer term plans. We would like to begin by thanking everyone who has been understanding of the changes we have had to make, and those who have shared words of kindness and support during this time – we appreciate it all. Now, we know this document is long (transparency and clarity results in the use of a lot of words!) but we would recommend reading through it to familiarise yourself with what we have done, are doing and are going to do.
We have developed our own measures of success for the way we are working:
- Ensuring the safety of our clients, their pets and our team
- Ability to continue providing urgent and emergency care
- Ability to continue providing essential vaccinations
- No positive cases among staff members
- Ability to continue to provide our urgent and emergency services even if there is a positive case in the team
- For clients not to struggle to get an urgent or emergency appointment for their pets
In order to do this when lockdown was first implemented back in March, we did the following:
- Split our small (but mighty!) team of 15 staff members into two teams, with one team working in practice and the other working from home on an alternating basis so that if one team member contracted the virus, we would not have to self-isolate the whole team (rendering us unable to provide our services) because we work in very close quarters with one another for extended periods of time. As it stands, there is always a team who can step in to be able to run the practice and provide your pets with the care they need, to the same high standard our clients expect.
- Introduced temperature checking our team every day they are in practice with non-contact thermometers to ensure they are cleared to work.
- Took our already rigorous cleaning protocols (they have to be in a veterinary surgery!) and stepped them up even more.
- Moved a significant number of our services online so that clients could submit insurance claim processing requests, request repeat medications and food, book appointments and contact our team easily.
- Kept the practice open with a ‘concierge’ service. This means that our doors have been locked, with vets and nurses collecting your lovely pets from you in the car park, and reception bringing food and medication out to you.
- Kept our full staff without furloughing or reduced hours to ensure maximum delivery of services.
- Reduced our working hours by one hour in the weekday to allow the in-practice team time to catch up on work and recharge before the next day.
- Increased the number of appointments available per vet on a day to make up for the shortfall created by having a reduced number of vets physically in practice.
- Introduced telephone and video consultations in line with the rules put in place by our regulatory body so that those who are self-isolating or unwell can still have access to our services.
- As temperatures have risen we have made pet water bowls available outside which are regularly cleaned.
You can read more about these services and the work we are doing below. If you would like to ask about anything that is not listed, please email us at email@example.com and a member of our team will get back to you.
Now that the government is easing lockdown, we have conducted a full review of the policies we have put in place so far:
All of us were hoping for something much closer than normal by this point. We miss seeing our wonderful pet owners in consult with their pets! However, given the circumstances regarding the easing of lockdown, we are anticipating an increase in the risk posed by the Novel Coronavirus as more people are out and about, and all reliable predictors indicate a second wave of infection to come later in the year.
As such, we have made the decision that as we can still provide our service to the high standards we pride ourselves on with the current ways of working, and as it is not necessary to change these in order to be able to provide the services we are currently allowed to, we will be continuing on with the measures outlined above until at least the end of summer. We will, as always, be reviewing this in light of information provided by the government and the guidance put in place by our regulatory and advisory bodies. Our team needs to feel safe coming to work, and our clients need to feel safe to continue to seek our services. Our patients don’t seem to be minding the changes too much as long as there are treats at the end of it! While this approach may seem overly cautious, we are a small business, and it is vital we are able to continue our work for the sake of all the pets that rely on us to give them the treatment they need, when they need it. We appreciate the ongoing support, kindness and understanding shown by you, our clients, as we work through this time.
If there are any queries relating to what we discuss in this document, please do not hesitate to send us an email. We are asking for non-urgent enquiries to be made online as this allows us to keep our increasingly busy phone lines available for those whose pets need urgent or emergency treatment.
If you fall into any of the categories below:
- Have travelled abroad recently
- Are currently showing symptoms of a cough, higher than usual temperature or any of the usual flu symptoms
- Live with or have been in close contact (under 2 metres distance, for longer than 15 minutes) with someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19) or is currently in self-isolation due to potential exposure or symptoms, or are the caregiver for someone in isolation or who has been diagnosed
- Have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Are currently self isolating because you are in a risk category
And your pet needs medical care, please contact us by telephone on 01435 864422 so that we can arrange to provide what your pet needs. Please do not arrive at the practice without having spoken to a member of staff on the telephone first, and make sure to inform them which of the above categories you fall into so that we are able to give you the best advice.
We would just like to reiterate that we are always here for our clients and their pets – if you have any concerns about your pet, please contact us so that we can advise you on the best way forward.
Although lockdown is currently being relaxed by the government, the recommendations of our advisory and regulatory bodies, the British Veterinary Association and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, has not changed since the April update. We must continue to offer urgent and emergency treatment, and can offer essential vaccines. This means we will still not be offering nail clips, weight watchers, confidence clinics or puppy parties for the foreseeable future. Please see further down on this page for information about annual health checks and booster vaccinations.
For all other consultations, you can now book these online and receive confirmation of your appointment immediately. Please note that if an appointment is not booked according to the guidelines above, we will not be able to carry it out. As soon as the appointments we cannot carry out currently are available, they will be added to the list of appointment types that you can book.
When you have a consultation booked:
- Please wait in your car and telephone us to let us know that you are here on the usual number, 01435 864422. We will then be able to let the vet know that you have arrived for your appointment.
- A member of staff will come to fetch your pet while you remain in your vehicle for the duration of the consultation.
- The vet will telephone you from the consult room to discuss any concerns you have, take a detailed history of the problem your pet is here to see us for and they will then conduct a thorough physical examination.
- Once the examination is complete, the vet will make their recommendations and discuss the treatment plan with you.
- We are still working out the logistics of the telephone transfers. At this point, the vet will either hand the phone to a receptionist, who will take payment over the phone and prepare your invoice or the vet will finish their conversation with you and the receptionist will call you a few moments later. We will not be accepting cash payment at this time. By speaking to the receptionist at this juncture, it will allow the vet time to dispense any medications and prepare them.
- A member of staff will then bring your pet back to your car, together with their medication.
In order to ensure the safety of our staff and maintain the social distancing recommended by the government, no clients will be allowed into the waiting room of either building. We ask that all clients remain in their cars in order not to crowd the front door, and we will try to maintain an efficient and thorough service, as we always have. We apologise for the impersonal nature of this protocol – we hope that all our clients understand that this is to protect everyone involved while still making sure your pet is receiving the care they need. We ask that clients who are walking to the surgery please bear in mind the weather.
We recognise that for end of life consultations it would not be possible to utilise this protocol, and we would want to make sure you are able to say goodbye to your beloved pet in a dignified manner. We will discuss the arrangements for this with you when you call. Please rest assured we will be there for you, as we always have been.
We are able to hold remote consultations. This is with the understanding that it is only suitable for certain situations, and we will offer this as an option if this is the case. There are two options:
- Phone consultation: You are able to contact reception and if they feel that a phone consultation may be appropriate, they will ask you to take a photograph of what you have called about and ask you to send it in an email. They will book a telephone consultation slot (the same duration as a normal consultation slot) and take payment for the telephone consultation fee. Once this has been received, it will be passed to the vet who will phone you in the booked slot. Please make sure we have up to date contact information for you.
- Telemedecine (video) consultations: In some cases, it may be appropriate for the vet to conduct an examination using video technology. If the receptionist feels that it would be appropriate for the case, they will offer this to you, take payment in advance and make the necessary arrangements with you. At the appropriate time we will begin the call and conduct the consultation via the video link.
In the event that during the course of the remote consultation it becomes evident that a physical examination is necessary, we will arrange this with you and the cost of the remote consultation will be deducted from the cost of the normal consultation, provided it is attended within 24 hours of the remote consultation. If a re-examination is attended in person or remotely within 24 hours this is charged at the usual rate. Please note that while we are utilising remote consulting where possible, your pet will need to physically be examined for most conditions.
Procedures and surgeries:
As with certain types of consultations, the British Veterinary Association and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons have recommended postponing any non-urgent procedures or surgeries. This may impact on some neutering procedures and dental treatment, but please discuss this with a member of our team as not all of these procedures are non-urgent.
When you have a visit to our surgical suite booked:
- Please wait in your car and telephone us on 01435 864422 to let us know that you are here. All admissions appointments are being arranged for after 08:30 as this is the time our telephone lines open. A member of staff will come out to meet your pet.
- We will take your pet into the hospital and transfer them onto our leads or into our carriers, and we ask that you take all your pet’s personal belongings including blankets home with you. We love to let them have their personal items with them, but for now we will need to ask that this does not happen.
- The team member will then return to your vehicle with your lead/carrier, which we ask that you bring with you when you collect your pet in the afternoon. They will also bring the iPad in order for you to answer the final few questions and sign the consent form, and wipe it down afterwards. Please note we are not allowed to carry out any treatment without the signed consent form, so please do not leave before this has been done!
- Your pet will have their procedure done, and a member of the team will be in touch to let you know how your pet is and arrange a home time. We will also take payment and arrange any re-examinations at this stage, so that when you return for your see-home appointment, you do not also have to contact the reception team.
- When you arrive to collect your pet, please telephone the practice to notify us you are here. We will come to collect your pet’s lead/carrier, and then fetch your pet and bring them straight to you in the car.
Please see the second to last paragraph under ‘Consultations’ regarding the closure of our waiting rooms to all clients.
We are not able to offer home visits at this time. All treatment and examinations must take place at the practice. We have always recommended this as this is where we are best-equipped to be able to carry out a thorough examination and any treatment necessary, but at this stage we are not able to offer home visits owing to the increased risk posed by SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, as only half the team are in practice at any one time, and they are needed to provide consultations which currently run all day bar lunchtime, we do not have any visit time slots to be able to offer.
Vaccinations and microchips
Following updated guidelines from the RCVS and BVA, we are now able to give more detailed guidance on vaccinations we are able to carry out on their due date:
- Puppy and kitten vaccinations
- All rabbit vaccinations
- The first annual booster for all species (usually for pets who are aged between 14 and 16 months old) for core vaccines (does not include Kennel Cough)
- Rabies vaccination for certification e.g. pet passports
- Dog annual vaccinations as long as they are having their leptospirosis vaccination – usually done as standard as this is the annual component of the dog vaccination. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease which can be transmitted from animals to humans so this is in the interests of animal welfare and public health. These can go up to 1 month past their due date.
- Vaccinations due for any species where there are urgent health concerns which do not prevent the vaccination from being administered
- Vaccinations where they are also due their repeat examination for a chronic condition
- Microchips which are to be done at the same time as other treatment, either listed above or urgent treatment per the guidelines
The following we can offer but with some delays/caveats:
- Cat annual vaccinations – these can go up to three months past their due date following recommendations from the WSAVA that came in last year. We are postponing cat annual vaccinations where possible. You can bring your cat in for a booster appointment if you are bringing another pet for urgent/emergency treatment as this does not increase exposure, but you must book an appointment per pet, one straight after the other – we will not accept pets who do not have their own slot booked.
- Kennel cough for dogs – this can be given if they are coming in for their core vaccinations, repeat examination for a chronic condition or other urgent/emergency treatment if appropriate. It cannot be booked as a standalone appointment as it is not currently considered urgent. As with everything else, this advice may change.
We cannot offer
- Standalone Kennel Cough vaccinations
- Standalone microchipping
How will boosters be getting booked?
We will still send out reminders as usual. Please note if you do not receive a reminder (text/email), you will not be on our list to contact to catch up on any overdue vaccines. You can book your pet in for an annual booster online.
Dog/rabbit owners – please book your appointment when you receive your reminder, as we will be booking these up to 1 month in advance
Cat owners – please make a note of your 3 months overdue date in your calendar. We will contact you approximately 2 weeks before they are 3 months overdue to arrange this appointment (our scheduling has not been done far enough in advance to book these in yet, given the ever changing nature of the COVID-19 situation and the fact the schedules may still change significantly). If you have not heard from us 1 week before they are due to be overdue by 3 months, please contact us.
If you have any health concerns not related to the annual booster vaccinations, please contact us so that we can advise you on the next steps, including how your booster vaccinations can be administered or may be affected, depending on the issues raised. The above protocols apply to healthy pets who do not have any other concerns currently, so if their health status changes please contact us on 01435 864422. If you are not sure which of the above your pet falls into, please do not hesitate to give us a call – we are still here to help and advise!
Neutering your pet is usually a non-urgent elective procedure which is strongly recommended. However, we ask that you contact us directly about neutering in order to be able to discuss this on a case by case basis, as for some pets it would be recommended sooner rather than later.
Food and medication
Please order your food and medication using our online request form for repeat medications and food . It would be much appreciated by our team if you were able to do this as it would allow urgent and emergency calls to come through and our phone lines are currently significantly busier than normal.
We will text you to let you know it is ready and include your prepayment options so that you can collect your items.
For you to collect food and medication we are operating a concierge service. Please phone us when you arrive in the car park and give us your car registration. We will then deliver your medication to you in your vehicle. We would appreciate it if you have a passenger window we can reach through or if you are able to open the boot from within your vehicle.
Please note we are not currently experiencing any shortages in medication. The only delays we are experiencing is owing to delivery slots and days having changed, in light of the effects of COVID-19 on the supply chain. Please allow at least 48 hours for orders to be processed, and make sure to request medication in advance of running out.
We ask that you request your pet’s prescription refills as needed. Stockpiling medication (like stockpiling toilet paper and hand sanitiser) only increases pressure on manufacturing and creates a more immediate shortage – if everyone carries on as they normally would, manufacturing can continue at its normal rate and the supply of medication will continue.
For patients with ongoing health conditions that require re-examination – please contact us to discuss this and we will advise you on the next steps on a case by case basis as a number of factors must be taken into account, and re-examinations will still need to take place within a reasonable time frame of the last time we saw your pet, as determined by the vet in charge of the case. You can go ahead and book these in online when you receive your reminder or if your medication notes that this is the last quantity we can dispense before re-examination is needed.
For flea and worming products – we are able to dispense these for pets we have seen within the last year, with enough treatment up to when we will be due to do their annual booster. If your pet has not been seen within the last year, please contact us and we will discuss the options available to you.
Please submit requests for insurance claims to be processed online. We are not accepting any forms over the counter in reception. Once we have received your request we will be in touch to clarify any further details with you, and we can then process your request. In some cases we will have to request paper forms but we will notify you of this.
We have slightly reduced our opening hours, so Monday to Friday we are available from 08:30-18:00. Saturday hours remain the same from 08:30-11:00.
Other relevant items:
- In the unlikely event that you need to enter a waiting room, we ask that you use the hand sanitiser available and maintain a minimum 2 metre distance from any staff member
- We will using non-contact temperature monitors on any client or third party who enters the building.
- If you are suffering from any symptoms, please let us know so we can barrier nurse your pet for their visit and ensure the safety of our team.
- All delivery people are being asked to leave items outside and knock on the window or door rather than coming in to deliver them
Other services we offer to make life easier:
- If you are not sure if you need to bring your pet in, please just give us a call and we will advise you of the necessary steps.
- We can post medication out directly to you. Please note this does incur the postage charges, and all medications must be sent signed for and insured up to the value of the medication contained within the parcel. We are not able to post out any controlled substances. Please let us know if you would like to make use of this service.
- You are able to send someone else to collect items for you if needed – just give us a call to pay for the items, and let us know the name of the person who will be coming to collect them. They can then follow the food and medication protocol outlined above.
We appreciate your help and support in facing this problem together. We will continue to update this page as the situation changes.
Last updated: 29 May 2020
Call us on 01435 864422 if you have any questions about how we are dealing with COVID-19.