THE BLOG
08/10/2015 08:00 BST | Updated 06/10/2016 06:12 BST

There Is No NHS for Animals

OK, I feel a rant coming on. As part of the day job I am a Veterinary Care Assistant and I can't stand the vet bashing I see any longer.

Newsflash: People who work with animals, generally love animals.

In every sector there are good and bad. Good doctors and bad doctors, good bus drivers and bad bus drivers, the same goes for plumbers, builders, postmen, managers, customer service and every other job you can think of, so with this in mind you will come across a bad veterinary surgeon, nurse, receptionist , but in my experience they are few and far between.

I have been very grateful during my time in veterinary to work within skilled and knowledgeable teams, who care about the animals they treat (whether they have an owner or not) and it makes me sick to the stomach when great staff get labelled as money grabbing business people. I have seen vets, nurses, practice managers and receptionists cry over pets, contribute their own wages towards treatment, take strays into their homes, fight so hard to alleviate suffering and yet they still get themselves a bad name and are accused of only being interested in the money.

Going to see a vet isn't cheap, medical care across the board isn't. To see a veterinary surgeon you will pay a consult fee which can range from around £25-40 - more if you are seeing a specialist. Seems like a lot? Well you are paying for their time, experience, knowledge, training, the nurse that comes in to help them, the receptionist that greets you when you arrive, the Practice Manager and support team that keeps everything running. There are overheads too, running costs - general maintenance of the building, insurance, cleaning equipment, telephones etc. If you were to break down that consult fee you will actually find the practice is not making much at all.

As humans in the UK we are incredibly lucky to have the NHS, so let's look at how much human care actually costs. Well for a ten minute consult with a GP we cost the NHS between £45-70 (without taking anything away from GP's who do a fantastic job, let's not forget most humans can tell their GP how they are feeling - it is much harder to diagnose an animal), to see a specialist for a consultation will be from £200 upwards. Surgery? For a human hysterectomy costs are around £5000, for a female dog the cost of a spay is around £90-£180.

Medical care costs, full stop.

Yes Vets are excited when you have insurance - not so they can max out on treatment but because they know insurance opens up other doors they can use for their diagnosis - if they need to do X Rays, surgery, send to a referral practice for MRI's or specialist treatment, they know they can do so and therefore do a better job for the patient. When owners struggle for money they do the best they can with the budget they have.

Sometimes, all the money in the world would not save a pet and the veterinary surgeons I have met have always been sensible in communicating this to owners - this does not mean they don't care, quite the contrary they don't want to lead you down an expensive path that will not have a happy ending.

Please stop blaming your Vet, if you don't trust the one you see then change to someone else but in my experience the veterinary team are a wonderful breed that will go above and beyond the call of duty, but until there is an NHS for animals (and trust me, every good veterinary team member really wishes there was) you do need to pay for their services.