Out of Hours Emergencies

I need a vet…

When you need a vet, you really need a vet. Let’s face it, our pets are like our children, mysterious individuals that sometimes get injured, show pain or inexplicably start to produces gallons of diarrhoea.

No amount of Googling lessens the worry. You could try the “Ask a Banbury Vet” Facebook group, but ultimately you can’t beat speaking to a vet, and it’s best to be prepared- our emergency service here at Mansion Hill is from the surgery in Middleton Cheney (with rare exceptions when I go on holiday!), but where does your practice expect you to go? 

Is the out of hours service local, or a long drive?

So here are my tips about calling a vet out of hours:

  1. Don’t worry about calling us. Genuinely! We’re on duty and we’re here to help. We’d rather you called us at 7pm with a problem than wait until it’s a worse problem at 3am!
  2. Advice on the phone is free (usually) – it certainly is here at Mansion Hill. And it’s of far superior quality to the scary stuff you find on the internet.
  3. Phone the practice number, and listen to the whole message. Some of you may have mobile numbers of vets who have called you squirrelled away on your phones, or social media messenger accounts you can sometimes get them on. These don’t count! The surgery will have (is required to have) a message out of hours with the duty veterinary surgeon’s contact details. For instance, sometimes I go on holiday and another vet practice agrees to cover the out of hours calls. In this case I may not get your message if you call my mobile directly.
  4. Every practice is obligated to arrange some form of out of hours cover. It may be organised in house, or it may be contracted out to an emergency service provider (see below). From the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS):
     all veterinary surgeons in practice must take steps to provide 24-hour emergency first aid and pain relief to animals according to their skills and the specific situation.
  5. Every vet is obligated to offer emergency treatment, but you should attempt to use your own vet’s out of hours service as they will have your pet’s clinical records. However, if for some reason you cannot contact your practice’s out of hours duty vet then call a neighbouring practice, explain the situation and use their service instead. If you’re on holiday then any local vet will see you.
  6. Vets are not obligated to visit you. Plan how you might get your pet to the vets in an emergency. Again from the RCVS guidance:
    Owners are responsible for transporting their animals to a veterinary practice, including in emergency situations. The RCVS encourages owners to think about how they can do this and make plans before an emergency arises. Examples include their own transport, a family member, friend or neighbour’s transport, an animal ambulance or a taxi service that will transport animals.

The full RCVS guidance: https://www.rcvs.org.uk/setting-standards/advice-and-guidance/code-of-professional-conduct-for-veterinary-surgeons/supporting-guidance/24-hour-emergency-first-aid-and-pain-relief/

External providers

Not every practice always provides its own out of hours service. In this case they’ll generally have contracted another practice to cover their emergencies, are sharing the duty rota with another practice, or have a specific out of hours emergency veterinary service who you must go to. Their emergency provision should be made clear to you- find out if an external provider has access to your pet’s clinical records.