Veterinary teams across the UK are continuing to provide essential care for animals -but it is not business as usual says the British Veterinary Association (BVA).
Since news of the UK-wide coronavirus lockdown on March 23, vet practices have been offering urgent and emergency care only, or undertaking work to maintain the food supply chain.
This has had a significant effect on practices that have put staff on furlough and rearranged rotas and teams to maintain social distancing. Many practices are operating a closed-door policy and have measures in place to make sure animals can be handed over safely without contact if essential.
However, this has led to some practices receiving abuse or ‘undue pressure’ from clients’ according to the BVA, which is calling on customers to show respect.
BVA president Daniella Dos Santos said: “Vets across the UK are working hard to provide essential care for animals in difficult circumstances. Many are working with reduced teams due to furloughing and self-isolation.
“Worryingly, our members are telling us that they’ve received abuse and undue pressure from clients. This is unacceptable. Vets are exercising their clinical and professional judgement in order to balance animal health and welfare, public health, client safety and the safety of their teams.”
As the government restrictions are likely to continue, BVA and the veterinary regulator the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeon (RCVS) have both issued updated guidance to support veterinary teams to undertake work that is essential for animal health and welfare over the next few weeks.
Vets will risk-assess each case and exercise their clinical and professional judgement to decide whether face-to-face treatment or care is essential or whether services could be provided remotely.
On the specific issue of pet vaccinations, BVA guidance says that following a risk assessment both for animal health and welfare and with regard to covid-19, some vaccinations could go ahead. But this does not mean that all vaccinations now have to be, or should be, carried out. Vets will risk assess each case to decide whether certain vaccinations are essential at this time.
BVA is asking all animal owners to respect their vets’ clinical and professional judgment and be patient during this time.
Daniella Dos Santos said: “The veterinary profession is playing its part in reducing the spread of covid-19. This means that they will be assessing and prioritising cases, and clients should expect non-essential procedures to be delayed.
“Veterinary decisions will vary between practices and in different parts of the country. Just because certain vaccinations are considered essential in one area, does not mean that they are needed in another over the next few weeks.
“Please trust your veterinary team, respect their decisions, and understand that they are doing their very best.”