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What is an emergency?

Living through this new COVID-19 era, especially since the government’s 23rd March announcement to place the UK into lockdown, has meant considerable changes for everyone and a dramatic shift in the way we can go about our lives.

Veterinary clinics are no exception to this. If you have been in touch with us in the past few weeks, then you will have already experienced the significant alterations in the way we are working and the services we are providing. This is all in an effort to adhere to government and veterinary regulatory body guidance, to protect not just our clients and staff, but the general public at large.

Current regulations state that veterinary clinics can remain open during this period, but only to provide care for true emergencies and for urgent cases where animal welfare would be compromised by delaying treatment.

Rest assured, we are continuing to provide emergency/urgent veterinary care to our clients during opening hours, and as usual, our out of hours emergency cover will continue as normal when we are not open (there’s more about our out of hours emergency care provision here). If you have an emergency out of hours, please phone the clinic as normal for further details.

What is an emergency case?

Genuine emergency cases are those that will we ultimately arrange to be seen at the clinic without significant delay. With an emergency, the urgency and need to have the patient seen physically by a vet comes from a concern that there could be an immediate threat to life. It can also occur where there is a significant impact on health/welfare and the patient is likely to quickly deteriorate if left unmanaged.

Examples include:

  • Severe trauma e.g. hit by car
  • Seizures
  • Significant weakness/collapse
  • Acute severe lameness
  • Struggling to pass urine/faeces
  • Significant bleeding
  • Abdominal swelling (particularly in large breed dogs)
  • Animals requiring immediate euthanasia

Even if you have a pet with one of the issues listed above, or if you feel you have an emergency that isn’t listed above, we ask that you please ring the clinic first. After initial triage you will be provided with instructions on bringing your pet to the clinic, if deemed appropriate. Clients who arrive at the clinic without first contacting us will be sent away without being seen if the issue is deemed a non-emergency.

What is an urgent case?

We class urgent cases as those where the patient has a condition which is causing either a significant impact on health/welfare but are currently stable, or a moderate impact but has a significant risk of deterioration. These conditions are typically not immediately life threatening.

Examples include:

  • Skin issues
  • Vomiting/diarrhoea in an otherwise well animal
  • Lumps
  • Wounds
  • Repeat medication checks (if stable)
  • Non-acute or low-grade acute lameness

All cases classified as urgent by our staff will initially be assessed via a video consultation by one of the veterinary team. These video consults will typically be arranged for the same day or the following day, depending on availability. Based on this contact, we may be able to provide advice and prescribe the necessary medical treatment for you to collect without any need for your pet to physically attend the clinic. Alternatively, assessment at the clinic may be deemed necessary following video consultation and an appointment will be made.

What are non-urgent/routine cases?

Unfortunately, there are certain services we are unable to provide under the current coronavirus restrictions. We are not seeing patients with conditions classed as having a minor impact on health/welfare and that are unlikely to deteriorate. We are also not seeing pets for non-disease associated consults.

Examples include:

  • Booster vaccinations
  • Neutering (spay/castration)
  • Nail clips
  • Anal gland expression

If you are uncertain if what you are wanting your pet seen for is classed as routine or non-urgent then give us a call and a member of staff will be happy to help. Please can we ask you to respect the judgement of our staff, the rules are not negotiable.

What to expect if you do attend the clinic

If you are asked to bring your pet to the clinic, the service will be different from what you are used to:

  • Please remain in the car on arrival to the clinic and call reception to advise us that you have arrived.
  • Your pet will be collected from outside the practice by a member of staff. Please be aware that we will examine your pet inside the clinic without you present.
  • The vet will call you to discuss over the phone the options and recommended treatment plan. Treatment will then be provided as necessary.

So … with all of us doing their part to isolate, social distance and only make journeys of the utmost necessity there is one question you need to ask yourself.

Is it an emergency?