- Why does out-of-hours emergency veterinary care cost as much as it does?
Our clinics are fully staffed and fully equipped every night, at weekends and on bank holidays, regardless of the number of cases we see. This means we can be there for pet owners in an emergency when other vets are closed. We also answer emergency calls throughout these periods, ensuring customers and their pets receive the care and support they deserve, at the time they need it most.
Daytime vets who provide their own out-of-hours emergency service (where typically a vet will be on-call, having to return to the practice to respond to a pet emergency) tend to rely on income from their routine general practice appointments to subsidise the cost of running this service. At Vets Now we do not offer routine daytime appointments. In addition, our staff costs are significantly higher than most daytime vets. There are many reasons for this, including the specialist nature of emergency work, higher salaries paid to staff who work unsocial hours, and our ongoing commitment to investing in staff training and development. All of our vets and vet nurses are dedicated to providing customers with value for money. You can find an in-depth analysis of our costs, and where your fees go, in this article.
- Can I get help with vet bills?
We appreciate that paying for emergency veterinary treatment can be a concern for many pet owners. However, there is no NHS for pets so owners are responsible for meeting these costs. For people who do require urgent veterinary care but who do not have the means to pay for it, there are several organisations that provide funding and support. Find out more here. However, if you are worried about your pet’s health you should always phone a vet whether you have the means to pay or not.
- My bill contains a minimum database fee. What is this?
The minimum database is a panel of tests designed to provide vets and vet nurses with vital diagnostics information. These tests can highlight a whole range of medical problems in a pet, such as internal bleeding or low blood glucose (which may cause neurological symptoms). They also indicate if dehydration is present or if there are issues with the pet’s circulation or kidneys. The minimum database is used in preference to more expensive tests such as full haematology or biochemistry tests, which are only run when the screening process highlights a specific need for them.
In many cases, our clinical staff will run the minimum database tests during the consultation process as they provide such a large amount of useful information and are very cost effective.
- What is the cost of an overnight stay at Vets Now?
If your pet needs to be hospitalised (kept in overnight or for several hours) a patient care (hospitalisation) fee is charged. This fee is charged in blocks. It is reflective of the stability of the patient on arrival at our clinic and the level of emergency and critical care they require. The more critically ill a patient, the more they will need one-on-one care, monitoring and support. This is similar to a human in an intensive care unit, where each patient requires a higher level of dedicated care and attention than patients in a general ward.
- What is the out-of-hours emergency consultation fee?
This fee is for the professional time of the veterinary surgeon and covers your pet’s examination, diagnosis and treatment plan. This will be comparable to the price you pay for a consultation at your own daytime vet. Read more about where your fees go here.
- What is the Vets Now out-of-hours (OOH) fee?
This fee reflects the premium nature of the service we provide and the fact our emergency service only operates at night, on weekends and bank holidays. The level of this fee depends on your pet and the time of the emergency. Read more about where your fees go here.
- What is the cost of a trip to Vets Now?
This varies depending on the level of treatment your pet requires. We will always give you an estimate of costs before treating your pet. All pet owners who require our veterinary team’s help in an out-of-hours emergency are charged a consultation fee and an out-of-hours (OOH) fee. In some clinics, the OOH and consultation fees are combined.
- What is an estimate of costs?
Your vet will discuss and agree a treatment plan that is best for you and your pet. An estimate of costs will be printed for your signature, to show that you have been properly informed of and agree with the plan and the associated costs. This is an essential part of your agreement to continue with treatment.
- What if I can’t afford treatment?
If you can’t afford the full range of treatment for your pet, please tell the vet as soon as possible. The vet may be able to tailor the treatment options to suit a restricted budget. If this is the case they will discuss with you the potential risks of declining any aspect of the recommended diagnostic/treatment plan. If this is not possible, the vet may offer you some time to pay your bill. However, the treatment options will be restricted to emergency treatment and first aid.
If your pet is registered with the PDSA please advise our Contact Centre call handler, or the clinic staff, immediately on arrival at the clinic. You will need to bring your registration certificate with you to the clinic; proof of entitlement to benefits is not sufficient.
- Why am I told the costs up front or before treatment?
It is best professional practice (as recommended by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) to ensure that all pet owners are made aware of the full cost of all the treatment options for their pets, so that an informed decision can be made regarding which option is best for them and their pet. We fully understand that this may be different from your experience at your daytime vet however as we are an emergency service, we usually only see a pet on one single occasion and don’t have the opportunity to build up an on-going relationship with further routine visits, which would allow us to perhaps spread the cost of your visit over a period of time. In addition, we do not hold a credit licence and are unable to offer regular payment terms.
At Vets Now, we do recommend taking out Pet Insurance to help with those unexpected emergency veterinary bills. You can find out more information about making an insurance claim here.
- How do I make a payment?
Normally, clients pay for their pets’ treatment at the time of their visit to our clinic. This can be by credit/ debit card or in cash.
Can’t find what you’re looking for?
We’ve tried our best to answer our most commonly asked questions in the above FAQs, but if you’re still having trouble, please call or email our Client Care team using the details below.