CVS has announced that it is to develop a network of peripatetic Advanced Practitioners, both to improve the breadth and depth of its clinical service around the country and to offer vets an attractive career pathway.

CVS says there has been a steady increase in the number of clinicians offering peripatetic services on the premises of host practices in almost every area of clinical work, including surgery, cardiology, diagnostic imaging and dermatology. It's a model for improving patient access to more advanced levels of clinical care.

The company has appointed Ben Walton BVSc DSAS(Orth) MRCVS (pictured right), an RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Surgery (Orthopaedics) at Chestergates Veterinary Specialists, to head up the new network (called the Advanced Clinical Services Network, or ASCN). In a previous life, he offered a peripatetic surgery service in the North West of England and North Wales for several years.

Ben said: "I believe that the new network will deliver huge advantages to a number of stakeholders. The peripatetic model is an attractive proposition from a number of perspectives.

"For the host practices, is allows cases to be managed to a greater depth in-house, improving their service offering, and increasing opportunities for development of the practice team. It also allows the retention of revenue from these cases, which in turn justifies investment in facilities.

"For the client and patient, it improves the level of care that they receive at their home practice. Visiting clinicians bring expertise into practices through their own knowledge and experience, but also through development of the practice team, thus improving standards across the board."

Ben believes the model also offers better clinical career progression for experienced vets: "I believe that clinically-satisfying roles can be hard to come by at the moment.

"As a profession, we tend to be good at looking after our recent graduates. CVS, other large groups and independent practices have worked really hard on this over the last few years. There are also plenty of opportunities to develop your career on a management track, especially in the large groups.

"What there is a real lack of, though, are jobs that allow genuine clinical development. Many vets are well-supported to gain certificates and Advanced Practitioner status, but often there isn’t a satisfying caseload at the end of it.

"Within the new network, experienced vets will have a caseload that is predominantly or exclusively within their preferred discipline, and as they will be performing higher-value work than they would in a GP position, better remuneration packages will be justifiable. Ultimately, we want to be able reward experienced vets well, for doing a job that is clinically satisfying, and provides a valuable service to host practices and their clients."

CVS says it intends to develop the Advanced Clinical Services Network in multiple disciplines nationwide over the next few years. 

Ben added: "Primarily, the ACSN is being established to service CVS practices, but we envisage that many of the services will also be available to non-CVS practices."

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