These are strange times with new challenges and we have needed to change to make sure that we are doing the best we can for our community, our clients, our pets and the national effort to help people stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We thank you for the great support you have already shown for our new ways of working.
The challenges we face are:
Some staff cannot come to work as they need to protect vulnerable dependents or they need to self isolate. This means that the staff who remain with us have to work longer and we have to limit the number of hours we are open.
If those staff who are working need to self-isolate we may have to shut the practice until they can return to work. It is therefore really important that their exposure to clients and their pets are kept to an absolute minimum consistent with the provision of appropriate care for pets. Examples of how we are doing this are making sure clients remain at least 2 metres away at all times, making sure we wash hands after every interaction, wearing gloves and masks where necessary, asking clients to wait in the car park until they can be seen, doing telephone consultations, paying by credit card over the phone etc etc. Some of these measures are detailed on other pages under the covid-19 tab in the menu.
Our staff interact with many peoples pets in a day. Whilst he chance of a dog or cat catching Covid-19 is tiny they could be a source of infection if someone has touched them and left virus on their skin, hair or on the handles of their carrier. Should a member of staff catch Covid-19 then we would not wish to transfer it to anyone. So keeping 2 metres distant and regular hand-washing are also measures to protect you and your loved ones.
You will have heard the terms “no non-essential travel” and ” stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives”. We are medical experts and we are morally obliged to support the community to follow these guidelines. Many of us have vulnerable family members and only by stopping community transmission can we help make sure there are sufficient beds in hospital for them to be looked after should they become ill. If I have to go to hospital with Covid-19 that is one less bed for someone else and that is the same for everyone of us. To make sure we minimise travel we have instigated telephone triage and consultations often supported by clients sending pictures in preparedness for a meaningful discussion surrounding their pets’ problems. We have tried video communication but find this less efficient than using the telephone and email. We are in the process of setting up local delivery of medication more details of which can be found on the medication request page. We are requesting everyone to telephone before they visit and not just to drop in. This is a bit of a change as we have in the past always been very open for people to drop in to pick things up.
Making sure that we can see those we need to
From the start of lockdown until about noon on 14 April the guidance of our governing body, the RCVS, was that we should deal with emergency and urgent cases only. This meant that we were obliged to refuse to carry out some vaccinations and could not provide non-essential medication. The RCVS changed their guidance on 14 April to ask us, as professionals, to assess the risk of dealing with the treatment and healthcare of animals in line with the government’s regulations and general advice.