The NHS has it's good points, but I think it's at fault for the misconception that "Vets are expensive". There may be some expensive vets, and the growth in the corporate chains, might be taken as evidence that there's money to be made from Veterinary Practice, but there are still a lot of practices who's bottom line isn't purely profit. Fortunately, I'm not just doing it for the money, and whilst the hours on duty aren't really compensated financially, it's uplifting to see the fruits of our labours. Measured in terms of Thank you cards versus complaint letters, our practice is very successful.
It's a clever trick to advertise a list of prices for routine procedures that may be disproportionately lower than your other prices. Supermarkets will have their loss leaders that draw customers into the shop. They're hoping that the customer will also buy some of their profitable lines whilst they're there. Whilst I haven't got any headline grabbing special offers, I know that my prices on a "basket of goods" are very reasonable. The SPVS conducts an annual nationwide survey on veterinary fees, and I find that I'm always below last years regional average.
Prescription only medication
We can only prescribe medication to animals "under our care". This is a legal requirement, it it also common sense. We want to make sure that the medicine is being used effectively, that it is still the right choice for the condition, and that there are no evident side effects. For an animal that appears to be stable on a suitable medication, we say that a 3 monthly interval between checks is sufficient. It will never be longer than this. Please don't argue with the staff when they explain this to you. Persistent offenders will be asked to find another practice.
I'm perfectly happy (excuse the sigh, and rather hurt expression) to provide prescriptions for customers who would like to buy their expensive medication, from somewhere less expensive. Our prices for medications are perfectly reasonable- we don't benefit from the large discounts that internet pharmacies get from manufacturers. We're a corner shop, not a supermarket. We like to keep a full range of medication in stock, but if it goes out of date, not only do we lose out, but we then have to pay for it's disposal.
We make a charge of £11.25 +VAT for writing a single item prescription. Prescriptions for multiple items are charged at £8.33 +VAT per item.
We're open with our fees, and will discuss likely costs in advance, and where available cheaper alternatives, but we do insist on payment at the time of treatment. Unfortunately we've had too many broken promises.
We take cash, cheque and most common payment cards.
Pet Health Plans
We've had quite a few enquiries about these, and some practices are quite keen on pushing them, but surely it can't be a good deal both ways.
It's probably works on the same principle as gym membership ie. You set up your regular payment with good intentions, then when you don't use the facility/forget your flea treatment, the "provider" is quids in.
We recommend annual vaccination, 3 monthly worming, and POM Flea treatment. It's a very good idea to bring your dog to the vets if you think it's poorly, and whilst we're uncompromising with check ups for medication, I don't see too much point in wasting our mutual time bringing your healthy pet for a 6 monthly check. (That racket's for dentists!)
By all means budget for your pets treatment, but probably better to do it with a bank, than a pet health plan provider. (It seems that I'm condoning banks- well personal banking is currently pretty good value for free- wait till you run your own business!)
At present we don't charge for filling in insurance forms (and they say vets are more intelligent than Doctors!), despite the extra work it creates. We like the client to pay for treatment direct though and then reclaim the money from the insurance company.
We broadly support the idea of insurance, as it takes cost out of an already complicated equation, when deciding on how to approach a case. It's a must if you're ever considering referral to a specialist.
We can't recommend a specific company, but like any type of insurance be aware of excesses and exclusions. The main consideration is whether to pay extra for a lifelong policy, or to choose a cheaper one that will only pay for 12 months treatment.
****Top tip It's probably sensible to start with a lifelong policy, and that way if it turns out that you've chosen a problem pet, at least you're covered. A lot of lifelong problems ie skin allergy, epilepsy, lameness, will become apparent in the first couple of years. If your pet hasn't had many problems you might then want to downgrade to a cheaper 12 month policy.****
If your insurance is with E&L and they want us to waste our time sending lots of additional information in triplicate, because they've had a fire at their office (again), then we reserve the right to charge for this.
At Home Veterinary Service Ltd
St.Mary's Veterinary Surgery
5 St.Mary's Way
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