Cotswold Pets

Joe Inglis on the re­la­tion­ship be­tween vet and client

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE - Joe Inglis con­tact @joethevet

Like many small busi­nesses, vet surg­eries thrive on gos­sip, and whilst many vets would ar­gue that it’s the nurses and re­cep­tion­ists who do most of the nat­ter­ing, us vets are of­ten as guilty of gos­sip­ing as the rest of the team.

From the go­ings on in the pri­vate life of the staff, and frus­tra­tions of awk­ward clients, to more mun­dane top­ics such as the week­end’s foot­ball scores or even the weather, a steady stream of gos­sip can be found in most prac­tices around the coun­try.

When I was in prac­tice in Carter­ton I spent a lot of time talk­ing foot­ball with Me­gan, one of the nurses. Me­gan’s a pas­sion­ate Chelsea fan (I sup­port Arse­nal, so there’s not much com­mon ground be­tween us on that sub­ject!), and we of­ten found our­selves hav­ing heated de­bates about the rights and wrongs of the week­end’s ref­er­ee­ing de­ci­sions or man­age­rial blun­ders as I op­er­ated, and she mon­i­tored the anaes­thetic. Ob­vi­ously com­plex op­er­a­tions or dif­fi­cult anaes­thet­ics made us con­cen­trate 100% on the job in hand, but when spay­ing the third cat of the morn­ing, or do­ing other rou­tine work, a good nat­ter helped pass the time and as in many jobs, also helped build a friendly at­mos­phere and bring the team to­gether (ex­pect when Arse­nal played Chelsea of course!)

The sub­ject mat­ter of op­er­at­ing theatre gos­sip can some­time move on from sport to more se­ri­ous mat­ters how­ever, and I re­mem­ber one par­tic­u­larly un­event­ful morn­ing’s op­er­at­ing list, with noth­ing but rou­tine cat spays and cas­tra­tions, when foot­ball gave way to a very dif­fer­ent topic – vets’ fees. Me­gan brought the sub­ject up af­ter watch­ing a doc­u­men­tary on the sub­ject the pre­vi­ous night which showed some re­ally shock­ing footage of vets ef­fec­tively con­ning clients into hav­ing over-priced and of­ten un­nec­es­sary work done on their pets. Al­though I didn’t catch the pro­gramme, it is some­thing I’ve long been aware of, and had pre­vi­ously re­ported on The One Show for the BBC on the is­sue of over­charg­ing by vets.

As we fin­ished up in the op­er­at­ing theatre that morn­ing, we agreed that the main prob­lem seemed to be the lack of ac­count­abil­ity in the vet­eri­nary pro­fes­sion, es­pe­cially where fees are con­cerned, rather than specif­i­cally the fees them­selves. Pet own­ers trust their vets to give them sound, hon­est ad­vice in the best in­ter­ests of their pets, but sadly, there are less scrupu­lous vets out there whose main mo­ti­va­tion ap­pears to be money rather than the wel­fare of their pa­tients. From over­charg­ing for rou­tine work, to ad­vis­ing un­nec­es­sary op­er­a­tions such as dentistry, and even charg­ing for work that’s not done, as was the case in one ex­am­ple on the doc­u­men­tary, there seem to be many ways that rogue vets can ex­ploit the trust of their clients for their own fi­nan­cial gain.

Thank­fully vets like this are few and far be­tween, and the vast ma­jor­ity are hon­est and do put the pet be­fore profit – but it only takes a few un­scrupu­lous vets to tar­nish the rep­u­ta­tion of the pro­fes­sion and make pet own­ers con­cerned and less will­ing to trust their vets, which is very sad for all con­cerned.

So, what can be done about it? Well, as our con­ver­sa­tion con­tin­ued in be­tween con­sul­ta­tions that af­ter­noon, the germ of an idea was born some­where in my mind. And it was this idea that was in­stru­men­tal in the de­sign of the prac­tice I set up a few years later in Swin­don called Vet’s Klinic, where trans­parency and value for money are core prin­ci­ples. In the five years or so since open­ing, the suc­cess of this prac­tice has proved how im­por­tant it is for vets to tackle the is­sues of trust and ac­count­abil­ity – and also showed that maybe not all gos­sip is idle gos­sip af­ter all; some gos­sip can change the world! N

Joe Inglis at Vet’s Klinic

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