Changes to our out-of-hours emergency service from 22 August 2022
To all our valued clients
As you will be aware from our previous communication dated 9 July 2020 regarding the provision of our emergency out of hours services, which can be found here, the provision of an emergency service by independent practices such as ours is becoming increasingly difficult. We discuss in detail some of the challenges being faced by our practice and the veterinary industry as a whole, and unfortunately the situation has not changed since then – pet ownership has increased, and numbers of veterinarians have not been able to keep pace. This has not been helped by the pandemic or Brexit, but aside from these influencing factors, veterinary remains a high attrition industry. Additionally, there is increasing specialisation in the field; as we have seen over the last few years, practices are moving away from mixed models, instead looking to concentrate on either small animal, farm or equine. Similarly, individual veterinarians are tending to focus their efforts on either general practice with no out of hours emergency or no general practice with a concentration on out of hours emergency. These factors combine to make it incredibly difficult to fill vacant veterinarian positions that require a mix of both.
As a result of going down to three veterinarians in September and our need to recruit a new veterinarian for our team, we will be unable to continue to provide our hybrid emergency out-of-hours service. This means that from 22 August 2022 we will continue to be available for emergency treatment for your pets between 08:30-19:00 Monday to Friday, and from 08:30-12 noon on a Saturday, but outside of these hours, the teams at VetsNow Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells will be your emergency care providers.
As always, patients that are hospitalised with us for treatment will remain with us except in cases where they need intense monitoring, and in those cases we have always recommended the option of transfer to VetsNow or another centre that offers 24-hour monitoring with staff on site at all times as this is not a service we are able to provide.
If your pet has an emergency or you’re worried it might be one, as always, call 01435 864422. If our team is the emergency care provider at that time, we’ll either answer the phone or our telephone answering service will take a message and pass it to the duty vet to call you back. Otherwise, you will be put through to the team at VetsNow who will be able to assist you.
In order to see which clinic will be closest to you in case of an emergency, the addresses of the VetsNow clinics are as follows:
Eastbourne (located within St Anne’s Vets)
6 St. Annes Road,
Tunbridge Wells (located within Culverden Vets)
Vets Now Tunbridge Wells,
11 Culverden Park Road,
This decision will support our team in being able to continue to provide our stellar service during our usual opening hours. Ian, Philip and Gerald will continue to be available, with the assistance of our registered and student veterinary nurses, who support us in providing gold standard veterinary care for your pets. Our talented reception team will, as always, be able to help whether you are worried about your pet’s health or need assistance with some pet-related paperwork. We pride ourselves on the fact that you can build a relationship with the team because it is always the same friendly faces available to help you – it also means that there is continuity in your pet’s care, because they will either see the same vet each time or on the rare occasion you cannot, our vets are able to hand your pet’s case over to one of their trusted colleagues.
By increasing our chances of recruiting an additional veterinarian, we will also be able to avoid having to rely on a revolving door of locum vets in order to have appointments available to you. We will also continue to keep the lead times on your pet’s routine health appointments low. As always, we hope that recruiting a new team member will also allow us to increase the scope of the medical and surgical services we provide. We are always looking for ways to improve, and they will either already have an additional skillset or will allow for enough time for our current team to attend further training.
While this has been a difficult decision to make as we recognise the importance of the emergency service, we hope that you understand our reasons for it. We appreciate your continued support.
With warm regards on behalf of the entire team here at Heathfield Vets
Call us on 01435 864422 if you have an emergency or are worried it might be one.