Remove mandatory house visits from the code of professional conduct
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In June 2013, a veterinary surgeon was struck off the register and thus had his livelihood removed in this country, as a result of delaying attendance on an animal at the owners' premises while he made arrangements for his inpatients and outpatients to be cared for. Other vets have been struck off in the past for refusing to attend to pets at their owners' homes outside of surgery hours.
It is only a matter of time before a vet is assaulted whilst carrying out a house visit. This could happen at any time of the day or night but is more likely when working out of hours, as the vet may not know the area of work very well and is very unlikely to know the clients.
The recent and past judgments have caused stress and anxiety to veterinary professionals, especially the younger and more inexperienced graduates who now often feel unable to refuse visits because of the disciplinary cases.
Removing the requirement for mandatory domiciliary visits from the code of conduct would not mean the end of house visits. It is likely that more vets would set up specialist visiting services. Most practices would continue to provide visits, where possible, and clients would be able to choose their practice taking this into account. We are already seeing non-vets setting up animal ambulance and taxi services and this trend would continue.
The UK is the only country in the world where the vet's responsibility does not start at the doors of the veterinary surgery, but at the moment the client contacts the vet. We need to be brought into line with all the other countries because maintaining the status quo is not an option for 2 reasons:
a) the maintenance of the mental and physical health and safety of veterinary professionals
b) the welfare of the vast majority of our small animal patients whose owners bring them to our premises and who may be neglected while we are out on a house call
We request that clause 3.2 of the guidance notes to the code is changed to remove everything after the first sentence and replace with words to the effect of: 'Veterinary surgeons are unable to make a definitive decision regarding diagnosis and treatment until they have undertaken a physical examination of an animal. This examination may take place at the surgery or other address entirely at the discretion of the veterinary surgeon on duty. It is expected that farm animals and equines will mainly be examined away from the surgery and pets at the surgery.'
We also request the removal of clause 3.13
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