It has been an incredibly difficult year for the country and with the prospect of restrictions lifting and the UK returning to some kind of normality, we know that you are hoping we too will also be returning to normal. In a lot of cases, this is true, with us now allowing one person to accompany your loved one in our waiting rooms and in some cases consultations (room size and vaccination status of veterinary team dependant). However, we feel we need to update you on some of the issues we and the rest of the veterinary industry are facing so you understand some of our decisions now and moving forwards.
COVID & Isolations
As is the case with a lot of industries across the country, a person must self-isolate if they or someone they have been in contact with contracts COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive. For Armac this has meant we have been working hard to maintain a safe environment for both clients and our team alike, regularly working with a drastically reduced team due to isolations, positive cases and childcare difficulties. This has meant fewer consultations are available each day, branches having to close at short notice and on some occasions with no notice at all, and the suspension of some routine work such as spaying, neutering, Animal health Certificate (AHC) paperwork and vaccinations. We understand this is inconvenient, less than ideal and not what you are used to but for us to still be able to provide emergency and critical care we have had to prioritise cases.
In addition to this, we have to mention that, due to a large number of our team being on the younger side, many are not yet fully vaccinated and therefore not as protected. For this reason, currently, they are using their discretion as to whether clients are permitted into consultation rooms or not.
Increased Pet Ownership
Something that has been widely discussed in the news, and so you may be aware of, is the increase of pet ownership through the pandemic. In 2019 an average of 41% of the population owned a pet, however, this figure has gone up to 59% in 2021. We have been accommodating new registrations to Woodcroft Vets throughout the pandemic, to enable there to be a medical provider for new pets, wherein a lot of cases our colleagues in other practices have closed their books. However, due to severe staff shortages in the past few weeks, we too have had to temporarily suspend new clients to alleviate some of the work load on the team.
Alongside isolations and sickness due to COVID, in the UK there is currently a recruitment crisis across the veterinary industry. Vets and nurses are in short supply across the nation and due to recent legislation changes surrounding locums and the increasing effect of Brexit adding to this issue, there are simply far fewer vets available within the UK. We are urgently trying to recruit new staff in all of our teams but for the reasons above this is taking much longer than we would have hoped for.
We really felt it was necessary to inform you of the above issues as we are trying to accommodate as many patients and operate at the highest capacity possible whilst still protecting our team and clients. With our team working extra hours, foregoing their annual leave and doing work outside of the boundaries of their role to ensure we meet our client’s expectations we need to ensure they are also looked after. For this reason, we ask for your kindness and understanding as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times we are still in. In many cases, this will mean we have to decline requests for travel appointments and certain surgical procedures, whilst postponing some pre-booked work on occasion. This being said, we assure you, we do not make these decisions lightly and we want to return to normal as much as the rest of the country.
Our team, regretfully, have at times been bearing the brunt of some of our client’s frustrations. We are sure that the majority of our clients will agree this is wholly unfair as our staff continue to do their very best in difficult circumstances. We would ask for our client’s ongoing patience and politeness with our front of house staff and urge anyone who wishes to provide feedback to direct it to our senior management by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that our teams “on the shop floor” can continue to do their jobs efficiently and without interruption or distress.
Thank you for your continued support of Armac Vets and your understanding during these difficult times.
The Armac Team