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‘Out of Hours’ practice criticised

‘Award winning veterinary agency Vets Now has come under criticism by a number of dog owners, after they were shocked by they way the agency has treated their pets. Vets Now is an ‘out of hours’ veterinary agency which offers small veterinary practices an out of hours service, so that single handed vets and small two or three vet practices can take time out to relax and not have to respond to emergency and out of hours calls.

Once signed up with Vets Now, the vet practices using their services hand over all ‘out of hours’ calls from Saturday lunchtime to Monday morning, Bank holidays and every night from close of practice in the evening, to the following morning.

Complaints range from the cost of the treatments, to pets being discharged while still very ill. It is claimed that the agency has broken a number of the ‘best practice’ guide lines listed on the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons web site. Vets Now work from a centrally located veterinary hospital in each region where they hold contracts with small practices.

Vets Now told Our Dogs that the regional centres should never be more than 30 minutes travelling time from the owner’s current veterinary surgery otherwise this would impede successful treatments. When asked about up front payments before treatment was started or demands for payments to be made which exceeded the owners immediate capacity to pay, the Vets Now spokesperson Mhairi Clarke told Our Dogs that they were unaware of this and were concerned to hear this had taken place, adding that they would like it made clear to our readers that if they feel the way their case was dealt with was not good enough, they would appreciate a written complaint being handed in so that they could investigate.


Some concerned dog owners have started a petition on the internet, after hearing a number of stories regarding the treatment of pets and their owners at the hands of the Vets Now centres.
One case reported to Our Dogs of Mr Colin Hull’s cavalier who was taken in by Vets Now for an emergency spay, claims that the dog was taken in, but when the owner rang at 11pm for a progress report, was shocked to discover the vets on duty were only just scrubbing up to operate, having said that the intervening hours had been used to stabilise the dog for the operation.


Before leaving the dog Mr Hull had been charged £350 and given a quote of approximately £650 to operate and care for the dog overnight. When Mr Hull’s wife went the following morning to collect the dog, she was horrified at the condition of the dog as she was handed back to her. She said the dog was totally out of it, the drip set up was not working and when this was pointed out, the discharging vet said it didn’t matter and the vet in Rayleigh Essex, to whom Mr Hulls dog was to be returned to would be able to sort this out. The bill handed to Mrs Hull for the treatment over night added up to a further £1,783!

Sadly Mr Hulls dog died following this incident. Mr and Mrs Hull telephoned Vets Now to complain, and they were sent a letter on the 31st October asking them to put their complaint in writing, at the time they were both too distraught to take further action on this, but now that the raw edge of their grief has dissipated, they now feel they will be to follow this up with a written complaint.
Another reader contacted Our Dogs with a similar story, that having taken the dog for an emergency whelping problem, she was shocked to receive a phone call on arrival home, demanding payment by credit card up front before Vets Now would operate on her bitch, luckily the bitch delivered an ansarca (waterlogged) puppy on her own, after all.


When Our Dogs asked Mhairi Clarke about this she said that Vets Now take any problem very seriously and even when the owners do not put a complaint in writing there is usually an ‘in house’ inquiry if they are informed of such concerns. Ms Clarke told Our Dogs that every phone call to a Vets Now centre is recorded and kept so that the business can be monitored, and this also helps if there are complaints to be investigated.

Regarding Mr Hull’s complaint they are conducting an investigation and this is now rapidly coming to a close, but they would still welcome a formal written complaint being lodged by Mr Hull so that an official reply to Mr Hull could be made, as at this time while an investigation is on going into the case Vets Now could not comment on the individual case.