A VETERINARY group is launching an innovative surgery on wheels service for pet owners and animals who find it a struggle visiting their local practice.
The independently-owned Willows Veterinary Group is behind the new mobile vet clinic which will serve Warrington, Runcorn and Lymm.
The Vet Van service has been likened to waiting in for a parcel delivery with the aim of making life easier for both owners and their pets.
The van, equipped with everything required to provide routine care in a person’s home, will travel to a different postcode patch every Wednesday and Thursday, meaning each individual area will receive a visit once every three weeks.
Vet Kate Williams, who is based at the group’s Bridgefoot and Beech House practices in Warrington and is leading the project, said: “We know a lot of people find it hard to bring their pets into the vets either because of transport or mobility issues.
“Some pets also have mobility issues of their own and a number find a visit to the vets quite stressful.
“It’s not always convenient for owners to drive their pets around and because most people work during the day we also see a lot of pressure on evening appointments.
“Whether it’s older clients relying on a relative to drive their pet to the vets, families who have to juggle the children and their pets, or owners who have multiple animals and struggle in the waiting room, the service aims to make it easier, affordable and more convenient for those people.”
She added: “We’ve always offered house visits but it can be expensive for routine procedures and not efficient.
“So the idea was to set up a service that makes routine care at home an affordable option.
“The van is fully equipped for routine non-urgent care that you’d get in a first consultation at one of our vet surgeries.
“The work will be carried out in the owner’s house – it could be blood tests, boosters, weighing the pets, or a regular six month follow up for a pet with an ongoing issue.
“The van is connected to and has the back up of all the Willows Veterinary Group branches with links to client’s records.”
The independently owned Willows Veterinary Group offers a wealth of knowledge and expertise through 25 small animal practices, a referral veterinary hospital, two equine centres and a seven-office farm practice, located across Cheshire, into North Wales, the Wirral and Staffordshire. Willows is accredited by The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
The mobile clinic, which costs £25 to use in addition to the usual consultation fee and any products used, will take away the hassle of having to sit in a busy waiting room.
Kate, who has been a vet for 17 years, said: “We will have a dedicated phone line for people wanting to use the mobile service.
“The appointment system is similar to systems used by parcel delivery companies but you don’t have to stay in all morning or afternoon as we’ll be able to tell you roughly when we’ll be coming.
“People using the service will be told a day when the service will be in their area and if it’s convenient they will go on the visit list between 10am and 2pm.
“On the morning of the visit, they will get a call giving them a better idea of what time the van will arrive and when they’re next on the list they will get a text message confirming an accurate time.
“The service’s total catchment area will be divided into six by postcode, with each postcode area being visited every three weeks.
“The call out fee is £25 for the service to cover the cost of travel so it doesn’t matter if the house has one pet or ten, it’s the same price and the rest of the treatment costs remain the same as in the practice.”