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COVID update 8th January - 29th March 2021
Veterinary practices will remain open during the lockdown period of 5th January to 29th March. Our regulatory body has advised that there will not be a return to “emergencies only” during this period (as was the case in March 2020) and the UK government has said that pet owners may leave home to seek veterinary advice or treatment for animal health and welfare reasons. However, it is important that veterinary practices support the “stay at home” message wherever possible and minimise non-essential contact between pet owners and veterinary staff. This does involve some new restrictions on the services that we are able to offer our clients.
Please read the following information carefully so that you know what to expect from Acorn House during this time.
Please note that we will honour all bookings already made, so if you have an appointment or procedure booked at Acorn House during this period, we are still happy for you to attend as planned.
Opening hours are 8am to 8pm weekdays and 8am to 4:30pm on Saturdays. Our on-site out of hours emergency service will operate as normal outside of these times.
Booking an appointment
Please call Reception during normal opening hours to make an appointment or use the online booking service via the website. All appointments must be booked in advance – please don’t just turn up!
Telephone/ video consultations are available at the same price as an on-site consultation and can be booked by calling Reception. Although a physical examination is an important part of the initial assessment of many cases; video consultations can be a good option for post-operative and follow-up checks in particular.
Attending an appointment
Clients attending a pre-booked appointment will be greeted in the car park by a member of staff who will perform the “check in” so that there is no need to enter the building at this point. If the member of staff is temporarily unavailable, please approach the “Enquiries” portacabin in the car park or telephone the surgery from the car park to let us know that you have arrived. Please wait in the car park. Make sure that you have your phone with you as the vet will ring you to discuss your pet at the start of the appointment, avoiding face-to-face contact.
The vet will bring your pet inside the building whilst you continue to wait outside. They will call you after their examination to discuss their findings and any treatment recommended.
After the consultation your pet will be returned to you in the car park and you will be invited to enter the Reception area to collect medication, make any future appointments, and to make payment. Reception has been adapted for social distancing (one-way system, 2m queueing markers, plastic screening, hand sanitiser). Please note that only one client per pet should enter Reception, and a face covering must be worn. If you would prefer not to enter the Reception area, please telephone the Reception desk from the car park and payment can be taken over the telephone and medication brought out to the car park instead.
Repeat medication can be ordered using our click and collect service, by emailing email@example.com or by telephoning Reception. Please allow 48 hours (72 hours over a weekend) before travelling to the practice to collect this medication.
Please let the staff member in the car park know that you would like to collect medication and they will direct you to the queue system inside Reception. Reception has been adapted for social distancing (one-way system, 2M queuing markers, plastic screening, hand sanitizer). Please note that only one client per pet should enter Reception, and a face covering must be worn. Medication can be collected and paid for at Reception. If you would prefer not to enter the Reception area, please telephone the Reception desk from the car park and payment can be taken over the telephone and medication brought out to the car park instead.
Clients that are self isolating
If you have COVID symptoms or have otherwise been asked to self-isolate, please do not attend the practice. Ask a friend or neighbour to bring your pet / collect medication for you, or telephone the practice to arrange a video consultation instead.
Acorn House is permitted to provide services that are necessary to maintain animal health and welfare. Acorn House is expected to delay services where such a delay would not compromise animal health and welfare. Please book appointments with this in mind.
Check-ups for ongoing conditions, dental, surgical and diagnostic procedures continue to be available, in addition to consultations for pets that are unwell.
Dog and cat vaccinations are available for initial vaccination courses, first annual boosters and any subsequent booster that is more than 2 months overdue. All rabbit vaccinations are available.
The vaccine manufacturers and our regulatory body have issued guidance that states that vaccine protection is considered to be maintained for up to 3 months past the date that the booster was due for adult cats and dogs that have already received their primary course and first annual booster.
We will continue to send vaccination reminders as normal. If your pet is eligible for immediate vaccination, please book this in the usual way. If your pet is in the older age group that is asked to delay vaccination, we suggest that you make the booking now, but book for 2-3 months past the vaccination due date (so if the vaccine is due in February, please book for April). It is expected that booster restrictions will be lifted on 12th April, so pets usually due in March and April can all be booked in for dates after 12th April and these bookings can be taken now.
Kennel cough vaccinations can be given at the same time as booster vaccinations (or if your dog is visiting the practice for another reason), but any dogs requiring kennel cough vaccination only should book appointments for this after 29th March.
There are no restrictions on the booking of bitch spays as dates are dependent on the pet’s reproductive cycle and spaying bitches is important for population control and general health. Laparoscopic (keyhole) spays will continue to go ahead.
Cat spays and castrates can be booked for cats over the age of 6 months. If your cat is younger than 6 months it is not considered essential to neuter them during this lockdown. Please call Reception to book as usual, but make sure that your cat will be 6 months of age or older at the time of surgery.
Dog castrates. If your dog is being castrated for a medical reason (e.g. prostate issue, retained testicle) or to resolve a behaviour issue or urine marking issue if this has been recommended by the vet, this may go ahead during lockdown. All other dog castration surgeries are considered non-essential during this lockdown and should be booked in for dates after 29th March.
Rabbit and small pet neutering may go ahead during lockdown if pets live in groups and neutering is necessary to prevent unwanted pregnancy or aggression between companions. Neutering of rabbits and other small pets that live alone should be delayed until after 29th March, unless there is a medical reason.
Home visits are not available currently.
Nurse clinics are available for essential services including post-operative checks / suture removal (where video consultations are not appropriate).
Nail clips and anal gland emptying are available where a pet is uncomfortable or distressed by overgrown nails or painful anal glands. We do ask that these procedures are delayed until after 29th March if it would not cause your pet any harm or distress to wait.
Euthanasia appointments for dogs can take place in the practice garden, but please bear in mind that weather conditions during the winter months make this a less attractive option than was the case over the summer. Clients can remain with their pets, whilst the vet administers the injection using a drip line, facilitating social distancing.
In poor weather, after dark, or for cats, we can offer indoor euthanasia appointments. Clients will be required to complete a COVID questionnaire over the telephone prior to entering the consultation room, and admission is limited to ONE PERSON ONLY. A face covering must be worn by the client at all times, and the veterinary surgeon will be wearing full PPE (surgical mask, face visor, apron, and gloves). We respectfully request that clients expect to leave the consultation room within 5 minutes of the euthanasia procedure being completed, so that rooms can be ventilated before re-use.
For those clients that are self-isolating, shielding or prefer not to be present during euthanasia, we will of course be able to perform the euthanasia without the client present. We will always ensure that patients are reassured and supported by our team of vets and nurses before and during the procedure so that their passing is peaceful.
Acorn House will not be accepting transfers from other local practices during this lockdown period (to be reviewed 29th March).
Pets that are not registered with a local vet (new pets or clients that have moved into the area and do not have access to any other veterinary services) may register in the usual way.
The staff at Acorn House have worked very hard to continue to provide veterinary care for their patients during the constantly-evolving COVID lockdown. We are extremely grateful to our lovely clients who have worked with us to make the various restrictions and changes work over the past few months and thank you for your continued support and understanding. The current ways of working will be reviewed on 29th March, in line with government and RCVS advice.
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Acorn House Veterinary Surgery
Linnet Way, Brickhill, Bedford, MK41 7HN