CORONAVIRUS UPDATE – 25th March
COVID 19 UPDATE
As you are aware, the number of Covid-19 cases in the UK is increasing, resulting in a countrywide lockdown. In response to this lockdown our governing body, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, has instructed all vets on how they must now act. This includes reducing face-face contact with the public and stopping all routine procedures. In response to this advice we have made changes to how our practice operates to ensure we can continue to offer, as always, the best possible care to all pets within the local community during this extraordinary period.
We kindly ask you to read the following advice to ensure you remain up to date with how our practice is responding to the Covid-19 outbreak. We have made several changes to our practice procedures to ensure we protect both you and our staff and limit the spread of this virus.
BRANCH OPENING & OPENING HOURS
Rest assured our practice remains open to treat your pet if it becomes unwell. However, we ask all clients to initially contact us by telephone rather than visit any of our sites unannounced.
To ensure we can maintain staffing levels throughout this period with immediate effect we have closed our Egham, Feltham, Hampton, Laleham and Stanwell branches. Rest assured our Staines, Sunbury and Addlestone branches are fully operational independent of which branch you are normally registered at and your pet’s clinical history available for us to view. In addition, we have decided that these branches will now open seven days a week with the following opening hours:
Monday–Friday: 8.00am-7.00pm Saturday: 8.00am-4.00pm Sunday: 10.00am-4.00pm*
*additional ooh fees apply
Outside of these hours we will be offering our usual emergency service in collaboration with Vets Now LTD from our Staines site to ensure we offer around the clock appointments and inpatient care as normal.
Our governing body, as previously mentioned, have restricted what services we can currently offer during the lockdown and, therefore, with immediate effect we can no longer carry out:
- Routine appointments e.g. nail clips, nurse clinics, puppy parties
- Vaccinations including booster vaccinations, puppy/kitten vaccinations and rabies vaccinations
- Elective surgeries such as neutering
We will triage all clinical issues initially by phone (see below) and will, also, be able to offer the following routine services, free of charge, by phone:
- Post op checks – please send videos/photos when requested to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Adolescent checks
- Post purchase puppy/kitten checks/advice calls
- Six-month health checks for our Pet Club Members
Of course, we cannot fully examine your pet over the phone with respect to these routine services, but after the lockdown we will be offering a free physical examination of your pet to ensure their health is fully evaluated.
Specific Vaccination Advice
For specific advice regarding your pet’s booster vaccination, vaccinating puppies and kittens please see our document “Vaccination Advice During Lockdown”. Available as a PDF on our website on our Covid-19 page.
At this current time, we cannot perform home visits. Although we will always endeavour to assist you should you not be able to bring your pet to the surgery.
If your need advice or your pet is unwell please phone your usual branch number (- our phones are now centralised to enable our client care team to work both from our branches and at home) or 01784452048 and our staff will be ready to advise you with any questions you may have. Please do not just turn up at one of our open branches as our doors are locked. In a desperate emergency, if you arrive at one of our open sites please phone the surgery number and our staff can advise you how we can treat your pet while still adhering to the social distancing measures required by the government.
CLIENT INTERACTION & SOCIAL DISTANCING
All initial client interaction will now be by phone as all our sites are currently closed to public access. During these phone calls you will be advised by one of care team how we can best deal with your request:
Food & Repeat Medication Orders
Currently there is no supply issue with either pet foods or medications. We continue to receive deliveries and, therefore, can take requests for either of these products over the phone. You will be contacted when these products are ready to collect and to inform you from which of our open branches you may collect them from.
When collecting products, we ask you to telephone us from your car to alert us of your arrival and we will then ask you to ensure the boot of your car is open. We then ask you to remain in your car until we have placed the requested items in your boot. Once we have moved at least 2 meters away from your vehicle you can then check the items you have ordered. We ask all clients to contact us by phone immediately if any discrepancies should arise as once products have left the practice, we cannot exchange items.
If you are showing symptoms of Covid-19, self-isolating or classified as a vulnerable person please let our staff know as we have contingency plans in place to assist you. These include the ability to post medications (at our normal charge) while the postal service is still operational or in an emergency, or for vulnerable clients, deliver medications. When delivering medicines and food we will not be able to enter your home, but we will call on arrival to advise that the goods have been left outside for collection. We will then wait outside, abiding by social distancing rules, so we can visually confirm you have collected such medication/food. For safety reasons we cannot leave food/medication outside your house if it is not being collected immediately.
Currently all consultations will be initially carried out over the phone, unless our client team identifies your pet’s presenting signs as requiring immediate veterinary attention (in this instance, you will be advised which branch to take your pet to and at what time). Telephone consultations are chargeable and must be paid at the time of booking such consultations.
Should your pet require examination after a telephone consultation you will be advised of the additional cost for this examination at the time of booking. If the vet deems that they your pet needs medication and that this can be dispensed over the phone, without the requirement for your pet to be seen (our governing body has temporary lifted certain restrictions regarding dispensing for the period of the lockdown), then these will be dispensed for you to collect as above. Payment is required over the phone before collection.
When booking a telephone consultation, we may ask you to complete a patient history request form and this may be emailed to you or can be downloaded from our website. Please complete this fully and return it to us by email (email@example.com) along with any pictures or videos you may have of your pet’s condition(s) or symptoms.
We will be also be offering video consultations and are asking all clients interested to pre-register their pets at https://vet-video-consultation.vethelpdirect.com/#/home. If during a phone call our client care team recommended a video consult (we can also register you at this time) you will be booked an appointment time. You will be notified of this appointment by email with a link that will take you to the relevant page to set-up your device ready for the appointment – it is important this is completed in advance of your appointment time. Once you have completed this stage you will be able to join the video consultation 10 minutes before your video consultation time and then be able to wait for the vet to join. NB: Video consultations work best when you can move the camera so the vet can visualise your pet, therefore, we recommend using a mobile, tablet or a movable (rather than built in) pc webcam.
Video consultations are chargeable and must be paid at the time of booking such consultations.
Visiting One of Our Branches
In an emergency or following a telephone/video consultation if you are asked to bring your pet to one of our branches for an appointment, we kindly ask you to abide by the following steps to protect both you and our staff:
- Our doors at all sites remain locked to prevent public access – please do not bang on the door but phone us instead.
- When you arrive for your appointment please telephone the practice to alert our client team that you have arrived and which site you are at.
- If, at this stage, we have not obtained a history regarding your pet or further information is needed a member of the clinical team will contact you to discuss your pet’s condition further.
- We will then request the following:
Cats, Small Mammals and Exotics
For you to place you pet in their secure container in the boot of your car, leave your boot open and return to sit in your car. A member of the clinical team will then collect your pet and once collected you will be able to shut your boot while your pet’s physical examination is carried out.
Get your dog out of the car, walk him/her to the designated on-site dog park and, after ensuring you dog’s collar and lead is fitted securely, attach you dog to the dog park. Once you dog is attached to the dog park you may wait with your dog and comfort him/her until one of the clinical team arrives. Once a member of the clinical arrives you will be asked to move away from your pet to an area appropriate to ensure social distancing and your dog will then be collected from the dog park. We then ask you to return to your car.
Aggressive or Nervous Dogs
It is extremely important that you tell us if your pet could be aggressive towards our staff during collection or treatment. Bites and scratches from patients may affect our ability to work and place further burden on the NHS service. If you are concerned that your pet may find this process stressful and react in an aggressive manner, we will suggest alternative options for your pet which may include sedation or alternative collection options.
- Your pet will then be transferred to our biosecurity zone where they be wiped down with a hibiscrub wipe (a common component of medicated pet shampoo) to reduce any viral load on their coat before being examined. We know that this can be stressful time for both you and your pet, but please be assured that we will look after them with the highest level of care in a calm and professional manner.
- Once your pet’s physical examination has been carried out the attending veterinary surgeon will contact you to discuss their findings and to discuss any recommended treatments or procedures your pet may require. If your pet can be discharged following such discussions. you will then be asked to pay over the phone for any dispensed medications and your pet will be returned to you following the reverse of the above procedures: Cats etc returned to the boot of your car and dogs returned to the designated dog park. Before your pet is returned to you, they will be cleaned again to reduce risk to your household, and, therefore, may be slightly damp.
We understand how difficult it is to decide to say goodbye to a beloved pet and during this period of lockdown with strict social distancing we are working to minimise the additional stress that such measures cause at this emotional time. We endeavour to treat each pet that is required to be euthanised individually taking on board client expectations and requirements, whilst still abiding by social distancing and the protection of our staff.
Return of a pet’s ashes during this period may be delayed but we will endeavour to return them as quickly as possible to you.
During this difficult time, we endeavour to provide a fully operational inpatient care service from our Staines site, with a vet and nurse on the premises at all times, – utilising our own staff and in collaboration with Vets Now LTD (the leading national veterinary out-of-hours provider). If your pet requires inpatient care the following procedures are in place:
Your pet will be admitted to the practice using the same procedure as detailed in the appointment section above. A consent form will be emailed to you, and you may either print this out, complete the required fields and email a scanned copy/photo of the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not have the facilities to do this then an email confirming your consent and the required information can be sent also to the same email address – in this instance verbal consent over the telephone will also be required by two members of the clinical team.
Once your pet is admitted to the surgery you will be updated as normal. Unfortunately, you will not be able to visit your pet, but we can offer facetime sessions so both you and your pet can stay in contact.
Willett House has always offered outstanding facilities and during this time our investment in such facilities enables us to deal with the majority of conditions your pet may unfortunately develop. This will mean a reduced need for you and your pet to be referred resulting in less stress at this difficult time and reduce the need for further social distancing measures.
Our Staines site has recently been renovated which allows us to offer advanced imaging techniques such as CT, ultrasound and endoscopy; a fully equipped laboratory and an oxygen concentrator to ensure we can continue to offer operations if national oxygen supplies run low. In fact, one of our oxygen concentrators has been succumbed by the government in case it is needed in the fight against Covid-19.
PROTECTING OUR STAFF
During this difficult time our staff, as always, is our most important resource – without them we cannot remain open and provide the gold standard care Willett House strives to offer. To ensure we minimise any risk to our staff we have introduced the following measures:
- Before visiting the practice, our client care team will ascertain whether you are currently isolating, showing symptoms of Covid-19 or classified as vulnerable person so we can best advise you how our team can best assist you. It is extremely important that you let us know if you are currently classified in any of these categories.
- Closed all our sites to public access
- Introduced strict biosecurity protocols to prevent Covid-19 entering the practice
- Instigated working from home, where possible, for our client care team and those that are self-isolating.
- Divided our clinical teams into smaller teams over multiple sites.
- Introduced social distancing within the workplace where possible e.g. during breaks etc
Remember our job cannot be carried out without our clinical teams coming into close contact with each other e.g. blood sampling or performing operations. Therefore, every day our clinical team risk their health to provide the outstanding care they trained to carry out. Please respect the team by practicing social distancing (not coming with 2m of a member of the team) and following any instructions fully; and please be patient if things take a little longer than normal.
We also ask you to appreciate that due to the changes we have introduced to working patterns it may not be possible to request to see a certain vet or request a call back from an individual vet at this time – we will always endeavour to respond to our client needs but these are extraordinary times.
As always new clients are always welcome to join our practice. Registration can be carried out over the phone, via our website or by email. Likewise, if your own vet needs to close during the lockdown, we will also be available to see your pet and can forward any advice or treatments carried out to your usual vet when they reopen.
Please be reassured that although we are operating differently, your pets will still be cared for by the same amazing team you are used to dealing with. Social distancing rules may stop us from being able to have face to face contact with you, but we will aim to deliver the same high level of service you expect from us over the coming weeks. We value each and every patient and client of Willett House and assure you that we are still here for you when you need us. Please help us to keep our team safe and we will do the same for you.
The Willett House Team