Veterinary Mediation Services

Many of us visit a veterinary practice when we are concerned for our animal’s health and wellbeing and are satisfied with the service we receive. If a problem arises, this can often be talked through and resolved with the veterinary professional at the practice. However, when your concern cannot be resolved by the practice, then our Veterinary Client Mediation Service (VCMS) service can help.

VCMS is a mediation service, so we do not judge, takes sides or penalise either party. We remain impartial to find a resolution. As a mediation process, the VCMS seeks to resolve your complaint fairly and quickly.

In addition to our VCMS service, we also advise pet owner’s on how to protect their pets throughout their life stages, such as in the event of their divorce or death.

We can help with:

  • Issues with veterinary care
  • Mediation with your veterinary care provider to resolve issues
  • Retaining your pets in the event of divorce
  • What will happen to your pet upon your death

Frequently Asked Questions

Pets are often important members of the family, and carefully drafted provisions should be made for them in your Wills to ensure that they are properly cared for after your death.

You need to consider is who is suitable to look after your pet. This can be a person or an organisation, such as a pet charity. It is important to ensure that whoever you choose is happy to accept the responsibility of caring for your pet and that you have discussed this with them beforehand.

You may want to consider a cash gift in your Will to whoever would care for your pet in the event of your death, to help with expenses such as veterinary bills. This can be worded so that they would only receive the money in the event that they took your pet into their care and not otherwise.

It is important that any clauses in connection with your pets and their care are carefully drafted to ensure that they are enforceable, cover any eventuality and most importantly are in accordance with your wishes. It is therefore advisable to seek professional help when looking to make a Will that provides for your pet.
Receiving a bill for high and/or unexpected fees can be very worrying and is best to be addressed as soon as possible.

Veterinary practices must operate under the code of conduct for individual vets and veterinary nurses issued by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons which requires that information about fees is provided clearly and estimates are given. The code sets out the duties of vets, but the guidance makes it clear there is no specific jurisdiction over the level of fees charged by veterinary practices. There are no statutory charges and fees are essentially a commercial decision.

If you have concerns surrounding an increase following your given estimate or feel you have been incorrectly billed, discuss this with the practice so they may provide further explanation to the charges.

Any concerns of being able to facilitate payment should be communicated to the practice and may result in reaching an agreed payment plan and avoiding any debt recovery action being undertaken.

If having exhausted the practice’s internal complaints procedure, you remain dissatisfied, the VCMS is available to escalate complaints further and assist in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.
If you wish to purchase medication elsewhere you may wish to request the prescription to be issued to you. The practice are obligated to provide this if clinically appropriate to do so. They should not prevent you from using a retailer of your choice. However, they do hold the right for a reasonable charge to be applied for issuing a written prescription.

If a practice is not willing to issue you a prescription, please discuss this with them in the first instance. A vet is permitted to provide a prescription for medication which is categorised as ‘controlled’, however there are strict rules governing the supply of controlled medication, and vets are bound by a duty of care when deciding their own policy in these circumstances. Many vets (in fact in our experience, the majority) would not be willing to provide a prescription for this category of medication. Even those who would give a prescription, would/could only give a written prescription for a limited supply.

If having exhausted the practice’s internal complaints procedure, you remain dissatisfied, the VCMS is available to escalate complaints further and assist in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.
It can be very frustrating submitting an insurance claim for this to then be declined by the insurers. You may feel the reasoning may not have previously been communicated by the Vet or that the Vets paperwork has negatively impacted on your claim unfairly.

It is always worth discussing any concerns with the practice to understand their position and to explore if they are able to assist you in any challenge of this decision.

If you wish to challenge the insurers decision, you will have to raise this with them directly through their complaint procedure.

It is important to remember that the terms and conditions of an insurance policy are the responsibility of the policy holder and that the vets cannot be held accountable for this third-party decision, based on these.
The loss of a pet is an emotional time for all pet owners. In circumstances where the reasons for the loss are unexplained or believed to be attributed to the vet’s involvement can cause further anguish and upset in an already highly emotive time.

If any concerns are held, you should issue this in writing to the practice to begin their internal complaint process. This will then allow for your concerns to be investigated and a chance for the practice to address any questions you may have.

If having exhausted the practice’s internal complaints procedure, you remain dissatisfied, the VCMS is available to escalate complaints further and assist in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.
There are many situations that can result in a pet owner feeling that incorrect treatment or advice was issued by a practice when no improvements are achieved.

In all circumstances, the best way to discuss any dispute of outstanding bills and received treatment is to raise this with the practice directly in writing, to allow further discussions surrounding these concerns.

It is important to appreciate the nature of diagnosing and that, not uncommonly, certain signs or aliments can be attributed to a variety of causes and requires clinical deduction for this to be established.

If having exhausted the practice’s internal complaints procedure, you remain dissatisfied, the VCMS is available to escalate complaints further and assist in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.
If during a visit to the vets you experience any service you feel to be unprofessional or are unhappy with, your first step is to raise this with them directly, making them aware of your dissatisfaction.

The practice will have an internal complaints procedure to help address matters of this nature and which will hopefully help to fully address your concerns.

Some tips for preparing your complaint:

1. Make the complaint in writing and keep a copy.
2. Ensure that you include your contact details so that a response can be sent to you.
3. Include all the relevant facts and dates, but try to be concise. You may find it helpful to include photographs, but make sure that you explain what the photographs show.
4. Explain what solution you are looking for it. It may be that you simply wish for a formal apology to be made, for changes to be made in the future, or for a partial or full refund.

If having exhausted the practice’s internal complaints procedure, you remain dissatisfied, the VCMS is available to escalate complaints further and assist in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.

Separation or divorce is difficult enough, especially if there are money issues and children.

For couples who have pets who are very much seen as part of the family, there can also be issues finding a way forward that suits both the parties and the animal.

Unfortunately, the law does not treat animals as anything other than objects or chattels that are ‘owned possessions’. This is why you may have heard stories of police dog handlers petitioning to have these loyal workers recognised in the law as anything other than a ‘chattel’.

Thankfully, the judiciary has moved on, and even though the law is still restrictive, it is possible to put in contact orders that regulate who will have the family pet and when.

Hurt people are not always at their best, and we have faced circumstances where parties have requested that the animal be put to sleep rather than let the other party have them.

Good solicitors will work together in finding a solution to make sure that both parties and the furry family member can navigate an appropriate way forward.

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For more information and to find out how we can help you, please contact us on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.

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