Clarification for veterinary practices in assessing emergency and urgent care during the Covid-19 pandemic

26 March 2020

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 March which brought in new guidance on staying at home and social distancing, veterinary practices have now been confirmed by the government as essential services.

This means that, during this period, veterinary professionals may continue to work – but must only provide urgent treatment and emergency services where animal welfare would be compromised by delay.

RCVS have issued further guidance to help ensure the veterinary profession plays its part in controlling the spread of COVID-19. This includes ensuring that the number of clients seen face-to-face is kept to a minimum. Furthermore, vets should stay at home except for very limited purposes, including travelling to and from work only where absolutely necessary.

Pets should only be seen in emergency situations or where, in the judgement of the veterinary surgeon, urgent assessment and/or treatment is needed in order to reduce the risk of the pet’s deterioration to the point where it may become an emergency in the near future, i.e. within the three-week time frame currently laid out by the Government.

BSAVA have worked with RCVS and other veterinary organisations to provide vets in practice with pragmatic guidance to support them when deciding if a pet needs to be physically examined. This includes examples for Emergency, Urgent and Routine cases along with downloadable PDF’s to help vets assess the need for physical examinations and obtain consent remotely.

For all BSAVA advice and resources relating to COVID-19, please visit our dedicated webpages.

For the full advice issued by RCVS, please see the RCVS website.

For government guidance, please see the government website.

As the situation continues to develop so rapidly, we would urge you to keep an eye on our social media channels and check the website for updates regularly.