The Pets at Home group has committed to providing a trained Mental Health First Aider in every Vets4Pets practice to support the profession as it deals with a wave of pressures.
The commitment comes as the retail group published its inaugural ‘Project Listen’ report on the UK’s veterinary sector. Vets4Pets engaged with over 700 vets, nurses and support teams to better understand the key challenges facing the profession and the potential opportunities to drive positive change.
The report was conducted amidst a backdrop of increasing demand for veterinary care which, along with ongoing recruitment challenges, showed that 47% of veterinary professionals are expressing concerns over their work/life balance. As many as 40% of veterinary professionals described their current health and wellbeing as ‘not that good’ or ‘poor’, due to increased pressures and a substantial workload, the report says.
Respondents also highlighted the negative impact that client behaviour can have, with 61% citing the need for more support in this area as the most important factor in achieving good health and wellbeing. This was ahead of mental health support, which was acknowledged as the second most important factor. Vets4Pets has already trained 300 CPD-accredited Mental Health First Aiders.
The organisation has committed to a partnership with the veterinary flexible working group Flexee to better support practices with operational demands, along with the implementation of a new practice model to optimise the client experience and improve the overall work/life balance within practices.
Vets4Pets is also developing an enhanced leadership development programme and partnering with VetLed for additional training to support teams in client engagement. It is also aligning its working values and behaviours with those of the British Veterinary Association’s Good Veterinary Workplaces Code.
Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “In publishing this report, we wanted to start a vital conversation on protecting the wellbeing of veterinary teams and the future of the profession.
“We’ve listened to the feedback from hundreds of professionals and, while it’s encouraging to see the huge passion that we all share in providing clinical excellence, we recognise that there are still many opportunities to improve the perception of the profession as an attractive, long-term career option.
“We now have an opportunity to come together to bring about much-needed change and we’re starting that journey by setting a number of clear commitments which will enable us to better support the health and wellbeing of our colleagues and partners.”