A study from Glasgow University exposes the risks of a lack of flexible out of hours vets care for vets. The move to flexible working for the vet’s team is being spearheaded by the Aussie prime minister. Tony Abbott, after a lengthy consultation process.
What the report discovered:
A change in working patterns for veterinary professionals. It means that some are still not able to take time off. To care for sick pets at night and on weekends. One vet who runs an in-patient surgery in Glasgow says: “I have the daytime surgery on the NHS. And then the overnight surgery on my own premises. I can’t work nights.”
Bennie Benaya, from the LMS, says the majority of vets in the UK still work full-time in the veterinary field.
What else they are finding:
- – UK vets are also finding it harder to find specialist staff, such as the highly specialized veterinary nurses, due to an inadequate number of people currently studying veterinary nursing.
- – Lack of flexibility in the use of fixed working hours
- – Competing with other industries, such as the NHS
- – Lack of training in certain veterinary services.
What needs to do
The report recommends that every practice of a case study to explain the difficulties of working flexible hours. The UK government needs to consider implementing a mandatory ‘flexible working’ package for veterinary professionals and to consider the findings of this report to help incentivize practices to adopt flexible working.
The report also highlighted that a large number of UK practices surveyed did not have any form of out of hours vets care. In the UK, practice leaders recognize that staff working at odd hours cannot be expected to be on-call 24/7. Practice leaders have agreed that it is important that animal welfare is a priority for veterinary professionals.
The response from vets in Glasgow:
Dr. Matt Reeves, the veterinary surgeon at Kirkcaldy Vets, said:
“I’ve been in practice for 17 years and, in all that time. I’ve never come across any health problem requiring intervention. That doesn’t have some means of intervention available within a few hours of treatment. It doesn’t mean that vets can do it in three hours. As we might have a sudden case and needs to be sort, our case studies do indicate that many more patients can have the effective treatment and preventative medication within hours of their arrival at the surgery.”
Dr. Benaya added: “If anything, it’s the veterinary nurse staff who I feel should be working at odd hours. If the majority of staff want to work at this time, it doesn’t mean it’s a great fit for them to work late-night and overnight shifts.
“Staff who work at these times are not employed for this reason; they’re employed to care for animals and to improve and monitor their welfare.
“I also think there needs to be some real reform of the NHS. The current system doesn’t allow practices to be innovative and flexible with what they provide. It’s no surprise that the research found that practices in the UK are not really flexible at all and that the greatest problems relate to the NHS.”
John Oldknow, Director of the LMS, said: “The whole point of this report is to get more veterinary practices talking about how they are handling out-of-hours and weekend appointments. In light of this report, it seems like an ideal time to develop a group with sector-wide representation from the LMS to work together to address these issues.”
The LMS and its members have previously supported UK Government proposals to ensure that care for pets is given equal priority to that of human patients.
This report offers a good basis to ensure that the NHS provides for the delivery of quality veterinary care to the whole population of the UK, to the satisfaction of all veterinary professionals.