Travelling times to Accident and Emergency services are to be drastically reduced with the procurement of local veterinary clinics by NHS trusts. Under the new plans anyone requiring emergency treatment will be referred to their nearest vets in what the Government says is “a sensible and logical use of existing resources.”
Following closures of A&E departments across the UK and despite a subsequent increase in mortality the move has been welcomed by Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt. “It makes complete sense when Fido or Tiddles are not using local services to open the doors to patients who may have had a stroke, major trauma injury or a saucepan stuck on the head. Under our (BSBV) Better Services Better Value review the ‘Veterinary Services Pathway’ is an ideal solution to the problem even though there may be the need to scrape up the occasional dog turd along the way.”
The development is also seen as a natural segue into contributing towards health care costs as, according to health service analysts, the public are already conditioned to paying exorbitant veterinary charges.
However the scheme has been criticised by health watchdogs and animal campaigners who fear that the dual use of facilities will lead to some tough moral decisions. Chris Kaninski of animal charity ‘Petwatch’ said, “As an animal charity we find this to be a very hard bone to chew. Yes, people should come before animals but is an eighty five year old pensioner’s life worth more than a pedigree German Shepherd’s?”
Agnes Davidson, resident of Newark in Nottinghamshire where a pilot scheme has been underway for the past two months said, “I called 999 a couple of weeks ago after I fell down the stairs and was referred to the RSPCA. I was a bit scared at first but must say that the treatment I got was marvellous and although I didn’t really need to be speyed the worming tablets they prescribed for me are working a treat.”
Opposition health spokesman Joe Cassar has called the proposals “a complete dog’s dinner which will not win a lot of votes from patients or the medical profession."