As a profession, Vets tend to work pretty long hours.
Since many of our clients are out at work themselves during the day, often evening surgery is the only time that they can get to us. As a result, most Veterinary Practices run evening surgeries and at Donaldson’s, our evening surgeries run until 7pm every week day and all our surgeries are open on a Saturday.
In addition, we have a Vet available for emergencies right through the night.
With increasing influence of EU working time directives and the like, many Veterinary Practices have found it increasingly difficult to run their own emergency service and, at night, calls are handled by a dedicated out of hours provider. This can cause problems as often the night Vet is in another Town or City many miles away and the night Vet may not have access to the animal’s medical history. There can be concerns about transporting ill animals long distances at night then transporting them again the next morning back to the day Vet.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is currently consulting Vets across the country to see if changes in Vets’ legal obligations should be made. Amongst the matters being considered is whether to abandon the obligation to provide 24 hour cover altogether.
I think it is absolutely essential that Veterinary Practices should commit to looking after their patients day and night. If one of my pets were ill at night or at the weekend, I would want it to receive the same level of care as it received between 9 and 5. Pet owners should respect the out-of-hours service and understand that calling the vet out at night for a non-emergency might be diverting resources away from an animal in greater need but our emergency service, run from the surgery at Maple Street, is available to all our registered clients should it be needed.
In addition to our “on-call” Vet, we have two members of the nursing team who are on-site to assist the Vet, to care for and monitor in-patients and deal with telephone calls.
Regardless of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ decision, we will continue to provide round the clock care for our patients but it is essential that all pet owners consider the service their Practice offers should there be a crisis in the middle of the night.