COVID19 Update and Protocols – Nov/Dec

As a practice we would like to thank you all for your patience and understanding over these past difficult months. We know things have been tricky for everybody as we have all had to learn to adapt to the ‘new normal’ we have been presented with. We don’t know how long this situation will last and we wanted to give you a quick update on how we as a practice are trying to keep up with the changes.

We are keeping up to date with the advice and guidelines issued by the government, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Veterinary Association. Our ultimate aim is to keep our patients, clients and team members as safe as we can in the current climate, whilst still providing the quality of care that we pride ourselves on. If you have come to the practice recently, you will have seen some of the measures in place, including a one-in-one-out policy for clients coming into reception, one way system in the practice, the perspex screen at reception and the masks and visors worn by team members. We are also offering telephone and video consults and posting medications when needed.

Currently we are operating as two separate teams in the practice so that in the event of one team member falling sick and their team having to isolate, we will always have the other team to operate the clinic. As I’m sure you can understand, this means that we cannot offer the normal number of appointment and surgery slots. With that being said, over the past couple of months our team has worked incredibly hard and managed to catch up with the backlog of vaccines and routine surgeries that were delayed due to the lock-down. However, working in teams also means other systems such as repeat prescriptions and reporting results are taking slightly longer than usual.

With repeat prescriptions we are now asking for 3 working days notice to have your repeat medications ready. With results, we are now asking you to allow up to seven working days to receive results. We will do our best to relay your pets results as speedily as we can and we have members of staff working from home to try and aid in this, but would ask you to allow 7 working days before calling the practice to request results. If there are urgent results that need to be relayed quickly, these will be prioritised. If you join ‘PetsApp’ it will allow us to relay routine results more quickly to you, please speak to a member of our team to find out more.

There is a lot of uncertainty over the weeks and months to come with what infection rates will do, whether there will be another lockdown (national or local), what restrictions may be introduced or relaxed. In this fluid situation, it is important that we are quick to adapt to changes. Regarding when owners will be able to accompany their pets to their appointments, we have no current plans to reinstate this.  We know this is an area that many owners find concerning, but there are three reasons why we feel it appropriate at this stage:

  1. To reduce stress to the patient and to help our vets maintain social distancing.  In the consult rooms, with owners present, pets are naturally drawn to their owners for comfort and reassurance.  This makes it impossible for our vets to maintain a safe social distance from owners when trying to perform a clinical exam. If we were to remove the pet from the owner and have the owner stand at a safe distance for the exam, most pets would be frantically trying to get back to the owner while they are within sight.  However, during the last few months, we have almost universally found that, when leaving owners out of the consult room, most pets are very happy to interact with the vet and nurse performing the exam.  Rest assured your pets are well looked after during their visits to us. We have found that many pets, who are usually very shy with us, have actually come out of their shells. This is obviously not always the case, and those who are still a little worried are often comforted and restrained by one of our amazing and highly skilled nurses. 
  1. To protect our team.  We have a duty to minimise contact and enforce social distancing wherever possible. We are following guidelines to carry on providing veterinary services in the safest way possible.  This helps to ensure the health of our team and their continued ability to provide care for your pets
  1. To protect our clients. For many clients, coming in contact with the team at the practice is the most contact they have outside of their own social bubble.  If a team member does get sick, the last thing we want to do is spread that infection to our clients.  A 2-3 minute chat outside with masks and visors on is far safer than a 15-20 minute consultation in an enclosed environment.  

For those who are still very worried (whether it be a pet or owner!), we are also offering telephone or video consults as an alternative to physical consults. This may not always be appropriate but one of our reception staff will be happy to discuss whether this is an option for you. 

We have also introduced PetsApp, which we are very excited about. This app, that you can download to your smart phone, enables you to contact us via messaging to order meds or book an appointment; it helps us to provide video consults; and when your pet is in the hospital with us, we can give you updates and photos through the day!

So, what can you expect during your appointment at the moment? As always, we would ask if you could contact us to arrange an appointment prior to arrival. 

  • When you arrive, you will notice numbered parking bays. Please make a note of the number, come into reception and let the team know that you have arrived and which bay you have parked in. 
  • We have a one-in-one-out policy, so if you can see someone in reception, please wait outside. We would ask that when you come indoors you wear a mask or face covering that covers your mouth and nose in accordance with government guidelines. 
  • You will then be given a pre-consult questionnaire on a clipboard and pen (both of which are disinfected between clients) and asked to complete the form.  
  • Once completed, hand it back to reception and we will give you a bleeper.  
  • At this stage we will ask you to return to the car or wait in the covered waiting area outside.  When the vet or nurse is ready for your appointment, the bleeper will activate (you can turn it off by pressing the button on the side).  Please make your way back to the marquee area with your pet to meet the team member. 
  • The vet or nurse will then take your pet into the practice to perform a clinical exam and any additional investigations that are needed. Please bring a mobile phone with you and keep it free so that the vet can call during your appointment if they need more information or consent for tests/treatment. 
  • Once the consultation is completed, the vet or nurse will return your pet to you, let you know what they have found on exam, and what treatment is needed. 
  • We would then ask that you return to reception to collect your medication and pay. 

If, however, you do not feel comfortable to come into the clinic, just let us know when you’ve arrived and one of our team will meet you in the car park

Finally, one of the biggest concerns we have been faced with at this time is when it is time to say goodbye to our pets. Previously we have always tried to accommodate special requests as much as possible. Due to Covid19 we are currently unable to offer home visits for euthanasia. If you are in the unfortunate position of needing your pet to be put to sleep, please speak to one of our team to discuss what options are currently available. We will still treat this difficult decision with as much sensitivity as possible. 

As the situation evolves, we will keep you up to date with the changes we are making to maintain government guidelines. For up-to-date information, please keep checking our Facebook page. Keep safe everyone and we hope to see you in the clinic soon!