As a profession, veterinary surgeons are bound by an oath to protect the welfare of animal’s under our care. However in this unprecedented public health emergency, the likes of which none of us have experienced before, and the health and safety of clients and society must be at the forefront of our decisions.
There has been a lot of discussion recently within our sector of the profession regarding what level of service it is appropriate that we should be continuing to offer. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), our governing bodies, has issued updated advice, in view of the recent government advice for a ‘national lock-down’. The situation is changing rapidly, and we should be aware that further guidance from the government may alter this advice.
The RCVS and BEVA’s view is that we should be doing everything possible to protect human health and follow the recommendations and advice from the UK government, which is based on efforts to reduce the spread of the COVID 19 virus and to protect the NHS. At the same time we need to maintain the provision of 24-hour emergency care.
- We should concentrate on maintaining a 24-hour emergency service for our equine patients. All non-essential and routine work should be stopped.
- We recommend that routine procedures, including pre-purchase examinations, routine dentistry, routine health checks, poor performance / mild lameness examinations, etc. should be stopped immediately.
- Telephone / video consultations should be used when feasible.
- For cases where physical examinations are absolutely necessary (i.e. for ill and injured patients), then a declaration from the owner / trainer that they are free from COVID 19 symptoms should be obtained beforehand and social distancing (i.e. at least 2 metres between people) should be practised – however we appreciate that this may not always be safe, and vets are urged to use their professional judgement and only break the “2 metres rule” when absolutely necessary for maintaining animal and human welfare.
- Routine 6-monthly influenza booster vaccinations be stopped.
Of course, stopping routine influenza vaccinations will have particular implications for competition horses. We are currently in discussion with the various regulatory bodies looking at ways that we can minimise the longer-term impact of temporarily reducing / halting influenza vaccinations. We further recommend that ALL other influenza booster vaccinations be halted for one month (to be reviewed after that time). Due to the ‘lock down’ measures experts are of the view that a delay in annual booster will have NO impact on equine welfare for the next three weeks.
Please continue to contact me via MOBILE, TEXT or Whatsapp if you have ANY concerns about your horse’s or pony’s health. Many issues can be sorted out without a visit BUT where deemed necessary a visit can be arranged.
Stay safe, stay in, stay here.