COVID-19 
 
 
 
 
 

Temporary Changes to Services from The Laurels Veteterinary Surgery during “Lock Down” - as of 25th March 2020

 

Dear Clients,

 

Further to our email of March 21st, with a very necessary “Lock down” introduced by the Government on the 23rd  March, we have taken internal steps to hopefully allow us to continue to offer you a  service that adheres to these limitations.

 

Our workforce has been divided into 4 small teams of one vet, one qualified nurse, one student nurse and one receptionist. Each will work on separate days and have no physical contact with each other. If one team has to self-isolate, the other teams will pick up their working days. This gives us the greatest chance of continuing to provide a beneficial service for you and your pets.

 

As per Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and British Veterinary Association (BVA) latest guidelines we will be providing an emergency service for pets – see addendum of BVA guidelines that we will be following for deciding what constitutes an emergency.

 

Can I get telephone advice?

 

  • We will be providing brief telephone advice from reception, but with only one receptionist, she will be mainly taking repeat medication / food orders, booking telephone consultations with the vet and taking “over the telephone” payments for services provided.

 

  • We will be providing telephone consultation for any concerned clients and for repeat medication checks that are due. The cost of these consults will be £22.17 that will be redeemable against a consult charge if the vet advises your pet falls into the seriously ill or emergency category and needs to be seen at the clinic.

 

 

What can I do if I am self-isolating and I have to bring my pet to the vets?

 

Anyone who is self-isolating should not be bringing their pet to the surgery! You must inform the vet if you fall into this category.

 

 

Am I allowed to enter the building with my pet?

 

  • NO CLIENTS ARE ALLOWED IN THE BUILDING

 

  • For those pets that need to come to the surgery, they will be collected from your car.  You should telephone reception once you are parked in the car park. Do not park too close to other cars and keep your windows closed if you are within 2 metres of another car.

 

  • Vets will either take any additional history they require from a 2-metre distance in the car park or over the telephone depending on the weather.

  • Cats should be in a secure basket and preferably in your car boot or on the back-passenger seat so that they can be collected while maintaining a 2-metre distance. Baskets handles or areas we touch will be wiped down with disinfectant wipes before being returned to you.

 

  • Dogs will be brought into the surgery using one of our slip leads. These will be sprayed with disinfectant between use on different dogs.

 

 

Will I still be able to order medication or food and collect it from the practice?

 

  • We will be providing medications as far as possible but now ask for 7 – 10 days’ notice for these instead of previous 48 hours as we are having deliveries once weekly now instead of our usual daily delivery.

 

  • We would prefer to post medications, but they can be collected from the car park.  Food will have to be collected from the car park.

 

  • All food and medication to be paid for over the telephone by card before collection or posting.

 

  • For collections – wait in the car park, do not park close to other cars, or if you are within 2 metres, keep your windows closed. Telephone reception to inform of your arrival. Medications and food will be brought to your car by our staff. To maintain a 2 metre distance, we would prefer to put items in your car boot – particularly bulky items, otherwise if the passenger rear window can be opened we can drop medications onto the back seat.

 

 

 

Important information regarding your forthcoming vaccinations:

Routine vaccinations, eg annual boosters in an otherwise healthy animal, are currently not considered urgent (see BVA guidance for veterinary practices in assessing emergency below​), however there may be scenarios where vaccines are being given to reduce a real and imminent risk of disease; this includes in the face of an animal disease outbreak, or in a scenario where part of a vaccine course has been given and the animal may be exposed to the disease.

       

In this case, as always, veterinary judgement is paramount and the risk of leaving an incomplete course must be weighed against the ability to see the animal whilst maximizing social distancing.

NB if the Government’s social distancing restrictions last longer than the current review date of 13 April, this guidance may change further.

 

  • For 1st vaccinations/ puppies having 2nd vaccinations that would’ve been their first visit to us:

Instead of your scheduled vaccination appointment, we would like to book in a telephone consult with one of our vets to discuss the current plans to safeguard your pet with regards to vaccinations, socialisation and any other queries that you may have about your new puppy or kitten.

 

  • For 2nd vaccinations:

Although we usually recommend an interval of 2-4 weeks [for puppies] / 3-4 weeks [for kittens], following recent advice from the manufacturers of the vaccinations this period can temporarily be extended to 6 weeks, especially with the current circumstances. This means that we can postpone your puppy’s/kitten’s 2nd vaccination until the end of this quarantine period.

Instead of your scheduled vaccination appointment, we would like to book in a telephone consult with one of our vets to discuss the current plans to safeguard your pet with regards to vaccinations, socialisation and any other queries that you may have about your new puppy or kitten.

 

  • NB The telephone consultation charge will later be credited against the cost of the vaccination visit

 

  • All these clients will be put on a list and contacted as soon as restrictions are lifted.

 

  • Booster reminders – please note these are automatically generated by our computer system so many of you will still be getting these by text or email. During the “lock down” just ignore them, there is usually a 2nd one generated anyway, but if this falls within the lock down it should also be ignored

 

 

BVA (British Veterinary Association) guidelines on what constitutes an emergency

 

Guidance for veterinary practices in assessing emergency and urgent care during the Covid-19 pandemic

 

Veterinary practices provide essential services, vital to ensure safe food production and safeguard animal welfare. Government advice states that people need to stay at home except for very limited purposes, including travelling to and from work, but only where absolutely necessary. The current restrictions are in place for 3 weeks from 23 March and this document relates to this time period. This document will be reviewed, and guidelines may be changed at this point.

 

During this period veterinary professionals can continue to work but must only provide urgent treatment and emergency care where animal welfare would be compromised by delaying for this period of time, or activities that are essential to maintaining the future food supply chain. 

 

These services must also be provided in a manner that avoids all unnecessary contact with clients, maintains a safe physical distance, and ensures that animals are only seen face-to-face where absolutely necessary. 

 

Definitions

 

The following definitions may help veterinary surgeons in their decision-making process:

 

Emergency: Immediate threat to life; significant impact on health/welfare and likely to deteriorate if left unmanaged. In normal circumstances these are cases that would be seen out of hours or fitted in on the same day.

 

Urgent: Significant impact on health/welfare but currently stable, or moderate impact but significant risk of deterioration.

 

Non-urgent/routine: Minor impact on health/welfare and unlikely to deteriorate, or non-disease associated.

 

General principles

 

There are some general principles that should be adopted across the veterinary sector:

 

• All unnecessary client contact must be stopped. You should:

o Clarify client’s medical status with regard to Covid-19

o Obtain histories over the phone

o Use technology to triage and consult wherever possible 

o Consider remote prescribing in line with RCVS guidance 

o Obtain payment over the phone

o Ensure contact-free collection of medication is in place, with a specific, secure collection time and place organised in advance

o Post medication if appropriate following Post Office guidance and, where applicable, following RCVS controlled drugs guidance

 

• All staff that can work from home should work from home. This includes:

o Administrative staff 

o Vets and nurses carrying out triage and remote consultations from home, referring to skeleton staff at a physical premises only if absolutely necessary 

 

 • Follow all hand hygiene and biosecurity measures and thoroughly clean all equipment after each use

• Follow strict social distancing measures between clients at all times and be prepared to refuse to continue if animal owners do not follow the official advice

• Continue to deliver emergency treatment, including euthanasia, of wildlife in accordance with your normal practice, as long as it can be done safety under social distancing rules  

 

In the event of a practice closing completely due to Covid-19, we urge neighbouring practices to work together to ensure full geographical cover for emergency veterinary services. We are asking practices, at these difficult times, to put aside commercial interests to support one another, and ensure that on returning to normal provision clients are retained by their original practices. 

 

Sector-specific advice

 

Please note: this advice is intended as guidance only. It is not an exhaustive list and veterinary practices may vary in their approach due to individual circumstances. This advice is for restrictions remaining in place for 3 weeks from 23 March and will be reviewed in light of any further government instructions or relevant information.

 

Small animal

 

• All doors should remain closed at all times. This means:

o Clients should wait in the car/outside and telephone on arrival 

o Animals should be collected from outside the practice by a member of staff

o Clients should remain outside whilst the patient is examined away from the owner

o After examination, treatment plans should be discussed and agreed over the phone

 

• There should be as few people working in the practice as possible, maintaining appropriate physical distances as much as possible. This means:

o Splitting workforce into small teams (eg 1 vet/1nurse) to minimise overall contacts o Staggering breaks between teams in case one team needs to isolate

 

• If you are requested to assist with an animal from an infected household, follow RCVS advice. There is no expectation on vets and nurses to undertake home visits to an infected household unless: it is essential for animal welfare; the risk can be adequately controlled (for example the animal placed outside the home upon the veterinary surgeon’s arrival); appropriate PPE is worn; and there is no other way the animal can be brought to the practice.

Examples to help assess whether a case is urgent or an emergency:

 

Suspend/Delay

• Vaccinations (unless in a shelter situation, or in case of disease outbreak)

• Non-essential consults, such as routine nail clips, weight clinics, puppy parties, mid-year health checks

• Neutering 

• Routine reproductive work Remotely assess in the first instance

 

Remotely assess in the first instance

• Mild trauma, eg nail pulls

• Skin issues, including flea allergic dermatitis 

• Anal glands/scooting

 • Post-op checks

• Repeat medication checks, if stable

• Vomiting/diarrhoea in a well animal

• Jaundice

• Pallor

• Dental complaints

• Lumps

• Wounds

• Non-acute lameness

• Eye complaints

• Anorexia

• Vaginal discharge

• Non-specific lethargy

 

Warrants physical examination

• Any of the above deemed necessary following remote triage or consultation

• Severe trauma, eg RTA

• Seizures

• Significant weakness or collapse

• Cough >one-week duration

• Difficulty breathing

• Dystocia

• Acute severe lameness

• Abdominal swelling

• Significant bleeding

• Retching

• Toxin ingestion (if phone/video triaged as significant)

• Struggling to urinate or defecate

• Excessive urination or thirst

• GI signs (vomiting and/or diarrhoea) with significant mental depression

• Ongoing treatment and monitoring of Addison’s patients

• Monitoring of unstable diabetics

• Flystrike

• Ileus (small mammals)

• Euthanasia