Posted by Gudrun Ravetz, Head Veterinary Officer on 25/03/2020
Updated 27 March 2020
News around coronavirus is rapidly changing as more information and evidence is found. It is understandable that the situation may cause concern for veterinary employees and businesses as well as animal owners and keepers who use veterinary services.
It is important that as a veterinary business and as individuals we stay up-to-date so we have provided some useful sources of information below.
Please regularly view the RCVS and BVA websites for detailed information.
On 23 March, new measures were announced by the government in the fight against Coronavirus. These require people to stay at home except for limited purposes and state further closures of non-essential businesses on top of those announced to close on 20 March.
As of the announcement on the 23rd March veterinary practices are not on the list of premises to close and can stay open however they must comply with the guidance on social distancing and only provide urgent treatment and emergency care (guidance on this is given by the BVA and RCVS). Practices will need to safeguard staff and public health and please note that the RCVS has stated: “As the regulator for veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses in the UK, our priority is the health and safety of those we regulate.” …”a clear acknowledgement that veterinary professionals may need to depart from our usual best practice advice and guidance, in order to safeguard personal and team safety and public health.” Further useful guidance is given on their website.
If it is deemed necessary for a client to visit the practice to provide emergency care:
Ordinarily remote prescribing of POM-V medication is not permitted however given the current situation the RCVS Council made a decision on the 24th March to temporarily allow remote prescribing of POM-V medication. ...”You may prescribe POM-V medicines via remote means where there is no other option, eg a medicine categorised as a POM-VPS, NFA-VPS, or AVM-GSL, that would be a suitable alternative and you are satisfied that any risk to the animal is outweighed by the benefit.” Please see further guidance in the RCVS FAQs.
In order to minimise client contact and enable clients to receive medications for their pets it may be necessary to use email prescriptions and post medication. Please see the BSAVA Guide to the Use of Veterinary Medicines for information and guidance.
It is important to communicate with clients to inform them of what to expect when coming to the practice and for them to consider if the visit is absolutely necessary so that animal welfare can be maintained without unnecessary risk to human health. As an example you may wish to use the following:
Your pet’s welfare is important to all of us but in these unsettling times, it is important that we look after all of our health and therefore we need to minimise people entering the practice.
We appreciate that these are unsettling times for all of us and that you are worried about the welfare of your pet. Please be assured we are doing everything that we can to make sure we all stay safe and maintain pet welfare. It may be that we must limit the services that we can safely provide while still providing for pet welfare.
We want to thank you for your co-operation and together we can all help.
While current evidence suggests an animal source for Covid-19 ongoing transmission is predominantly person to person and there is currently no evidence that pets may be a source of infection for people. Vets should continue to take the usual precautions when handling animals and animal products in line with good biosecurity. Please see the OIE website for further information.
The British Veterinary Association have produced an informative webinar on the 21 March which gives practical guidance but please note some of this is now superseded by the measures given by the government on the 23 March, therefore please regularly review the websites of the BVA and RCVS. There will be a second BVA webinar on the 29 March.
We’re continuing to monitor the situation in the UK and will update our advice and support as things develop.
Head Veterinary Officer