Access To Emergency And Out Of Hours Veterinary Services

Access to Emergency and Out of hours Veterinary Services

If you are not registered with a vet or are far away from your usual practice (e.g. on holiday) you can still access veterinary treatment in an emergency.

Veterinary surgeon and nurses have a duty to administer pain relief and first aid in an emergency; their professional codes require them s to provide veterinary care and veterinary nursing care that is appropriate and adequate.  Veterinary surgeons must take steps to provide 24-hour emergency care which means that they need to ensure that, when off duty or otherwise unable to provide the service, clients are directed to another appropriate service. Vet practices are encouraged to cooperate with each other practices ensuring adequate coverage

Since the costs for out-of-hours services are generally more expensive you may be required to pay an additional premium for emergency veterinary treatment outside normal working hours. Additionally veterinary surgeons may also charge higher fees for unregistered clients.

Owners are responsible for transporting their animals to a veterinary practice, including in emergency situations. In all but exceptional circumstances, the interests of companion animals will be best served by being taken to a veterinary practice, where the attending veterinary surgeon has access to a full range of equipment, veterinary medicines and appropriate facilities. 

If you dog needs emergency treatment any immediate first aid and pain relief should not be delayed while financial arrangements are agreed likely costs and arrangements for payment should be discussed at an early stage.

Veterinary surgeons are not obliged to carry out ongoing treatments for which the owner is unable to pay.

Law: Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 

Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966

Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons – Code of Professional Conduct