Surcharge for this service

AS THE creator and co-ordinator of the Weston and Worle Veterinary Emergency Service, I wish to clarify issues raised by Mercury readers about the availability of veterinary emergency services in the Weston area.

AS THE creator and co-ordinator of the Weston and Worle Veterinary Emergency Service, I wish to clarify issues raised by Mercury readers about the availability of veterinary emergency services in the Weston area.

Weston and Worle Veterinary Emergency Service is collaboration between four veterinary practices; Green Pastures; Clarendon; Beaconsfield and Summer Lane. We provide a local, high quality yet cost effective service that these days individual practices could not finance alone. It is the only veterinary emergency service to be based in Weston.

Critically ill pets from Clarendon, Beaconsfield and Summer Lane are seen at Green Pastures Veterinary Centre which is set up to provide emergency and critical care trained staff, overnight nursing, specialist equipment and medications. Critical patients can stay at Green Pastures for as long as necessary and any transport is arranged by the participating practices.

However, there are eight veterinary businesses in the Weston area so half the local clients need to access an emergency vet outside the town in Bristol, Nailsea or Highbridge. It is an unfamiliar journey with unfamiliar faces at a time of stress.


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For Weston and Worle Veterinary Emergency Service, the on duty nurses are from Green Pastures. The on duty vets are all local vets working at Green Pastures, Clarendon, Beaconsfield and Summer Lane. As well as the duty vet, there is a list of vets who can be telephoned should two emergencies occur together.

The decision to call the back up vet is made by the on duty vet. Recent Mercury readers' letters refer to dogs which were not critically ill; one had recovered from a fit and the other had a blood stained discharge. We do understand that the owners are worried and impatient for attention when pets are unwell but we respectfully request that clients trust our judgement and experience with the timing of these appointments.

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Veterinary healthcare for pets is funded by private businesses and incurs fees to provide professional services. The on duty vets are all instructed to ensure that clients are aware that there is a surcharge for this service before the client is seen. The reason is simple - when clients learn of the fee, they may decide not to attend the offered appointment. With regard to surcharges for this out-of-hours professional service, obviously they will be greater than during the day, reflecting the much greater costs of providing such a service.

Part of responsible pet ownership is to ensure that funds are available for a pet's care and welfare. We do feel obliged to keep clients informed of costs because we want our clients to be in a position to make informed choices. To date most (but clearly not all) of our clients both value and recognise the level of service we provide.

We often find that new clients wish to register at times of an emergency to avoid travelling out of Weston. This creates an unethical professional dilemma and means that such clients will be advised to use the emergency service provided by their veterinary surgeon.

If you wish your pets to be able to access the Weston and Worle Veterinary Emergency Service then you need to register at any of the following veterinary centres: Summer Lane; Clarendon; Beaconsfield or Green Pastures.

KATHY BARCHAM

Green Pastures Veterinary Centre, Moor Lane, Weston

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