To all our valued clients,
Re: Out of hours emergency service
We are writing this open letter to inform you that we are now at the point in the lifetime of the practice where we need to make changes to the way we provide our out of hours emergency service, by introducing our new hybrid out of hours emergency service.
Why is this change necessary?
We have long provided an emergency service to all the patients under our care. As more practices have stopped providing their own emergency service, advice calls and call outs have increased, particularly for unregistered patients. The principle of each practice providing their own emergency service or making arrangements with dedicated out of hours providers is to spread the cases and make sure that veterinary practices do not get overwhelmed. As one of a few practices offering this service the workload has increased for our already hard-working vets.
Now Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has created extra pressure and resulted in longer working hours for our vets. With no scope to reduce these, the additional difficulties caused by providing a 24-hour emergency service are proving too much.
Additionally, the recruitment and retention of exceptional staff is difficult. Veterinary is a shortage sector, with more vets leaving the profession than are coming into it.
With the departure of our fourth vet, we will temporarily be going down to three vets until we are able to bring a wonderful fourth vet on board. To do so, we need to make our employment package appealing and bring it more in line with that of other practices in the area, who require little or no out of hours work. This is so we can have a broad pool of candidates to find someone who will be as dedicated as we are to providing the best possible care to your pets.
Furthermore, our three vets have got over 30 years of veterinary experience each, most of those involving providing an out of hours service.
We want to make sure they can continue to share their wealth of knowledge and experience with you as pet owners, bringing your pets the very best medical attention there is to offer. In order to do this, a full night’s rest and the ability to recharge before the next working day has become increasingly important.
What does this mean for the out of hours service?
We still believe in being here for your pets, both in and out of hours, but we need to consider the factors which influence our ability to provide this service.
We have made the decision to move to a hybrid out of hours emergency service, whereby we still provide the majority of our out of hours service, but we outsource a portion of it to VetsNow who specialise in providing emergency care.
How will this hybrid system work?
We have analysed the statistics for our out of hours service over the last three years, and established that we take between 85 and 90% of our out of hours calls between 06:00 and 22:00, not including those that happen during our usual opening hours of 08:30 and 19:00. So, this hybrid system will work as follows:
- Between 6am and 10pm, our vets will provide the out of hours service, 7 days a week. This means that in most cases, you will still be able to see the vets you know, at the practice your pet is comfortable with.
- Between 10pm and 6am, we have arranged with VetsNow who specialise in out of hours care to provide this service for you and your pets. We know that our clients are widespread, so we have organised for you to have the option of travelling to Tunbridge Wells or Eastbourne, depending on which is closest. Please note that all fees must be settled with them per their terms and conditions.
We regret any inconvenience this will cause you and your pets. However, we know the way we are currently working is not sustainable long-term, and this hybrid system will provide the middle ground. In almost all cases you will still be able to see one of our vets and nurses out of hours.
When will this change take effect?
This change will take effect from Friday 12th June 2020.
If your pet needs veterinary care outside our opening hours, just call our usual number 01435 864422. Before 22:00 and after 06:00, our answering service will take a message and our duty vet will call you back. Between 22:00 and 06:00, you will be diverted through to VetsNow, who will make the appropriate arrangements with you.
What if my pet is an in-patient at the practice?
If your pet is an in-patient with us, that is, hospitalised overnight, we will be keeping them with us and providing their overnight care in the same way we always have. For the cases that need intense monitoring, we have always provided the option of transferring them to VetsNow as we do not employ waking night nurses.
What if my pet is hospitalised at VetsNow?
If your pet must be hospitalised at VetsNow in the small number of cases we do not see in the first instance, it will work a little differently.
VetsNowdo not offer 24 hour hospitalisation, as they use existing veterinary practices who resume their work in the morning. In most cases, you will collect your pet from VetsNow in the morning and bring them to us where we will look after them until they are well enough to go home without having to transfer them back and forth if they need to stay in for multiple nights.
This may be different in cases that require intense monitoring or where it would be a risk to your pet to move them, but this will be discussed with you on a case by case basis and recommendations made based on the best interests of your pet, as has always been our philosophy.
We hope that you can understand why we have made this decision and we appreciate your continued support. If you have any specific queries which we have not answered here, please use our contact page to submit your questions and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
With warm regards from all the team