VetSurgeon Help

24/7 and OOH Home Visits Consultation

The RCVS has called for evidence concerning the provision of 24 hr emergency cover.

This wiki page is a collaborative document which all members of are invited to contribute to. To do so, press the EDIT tab at the top of the page.

The rules are simple. If you feel you can ADD an additional valid point to those listed below, please do.

Please DO NOT DELETE any existing content you see on the page.

There are two parts to this document which you might like to contribute to. First a list of issues you think the RCVS should consider as they review 24/7 cover, and secondly whether you think that the requirement to provide home visits should be removed.

This page will be submitted to the RCVS on 17th February



List of issues the RCVS should consider when reviewing the provision of 24/7 emergency cover:

  • At present, the professional responsibility for night visits falls on just a few because the code and its associated guidance are out of date and equivocal. Many vets do not offer 24/7 care but the code requires them to. (Visits and transfer of sick animals are both explored within Chikosi and Gillams 2013)
  • The present Code fudge leaves all unable to agree what is expected. Some sites pretend to offer 24/7 when in fact they farm it out. This helps their marketing, but is a breach of consumer trust .
  • Claiming 24/7 service when you close at 6 utilises a probably inappropriate PSS contract option - when you dont offer 24h care but want to be in the PSS. However it also seems to allow clinicians who dont have 24/7 care to fulfil code obligations to provide 24/7 to their patients.
  • You can be a VH without a 24/7 service.. is that OK?
  • Some practices very close to a full 24/7 VH or EC advertise a 24hr service. From a public and marketing point of view - these look similar  to big sites with lots of night staff - but they are not businesses that are fully staffed and they don't have all the infrastructure and costs of 24 hr care. This advertising creep puts practices which have invested money, time, resources and effort at disadvantage. 
  • Present 24/7 claims and advertising are often misleading and anticompetitive. It takes little time to examine the websites of practices that use an EC or VH for their OOH and see how honest they appear. In some cases marketing appears to be a lie and if it is a lie, then  it is a matter that i already know trading standards will be very interested  in  - that is - if it is not sorted out at the next RCVS review "effectively".
  • 24/7 OOH centers sites are commonly under-staffed and over-used by practices. The RCVS doesn't state what is the maximum number of vets practices or registered clients that a OOH should be able to provide cover for. This leaves single vets in OOH centers having to make patients wait for too long in emergency consultations. And exposing themselves to complaint.
  • Further relaxation of the requirement for all practices to make arrangements for 24/7 cover and for veterinary surgeons to visit when clinically necessary may result in considerable unnecessary animal suffering.
  • If visits are to remain mandatory then it should also be mandatory that OOH centres are always staffed by two veterinary surgeons so that, if one is called to the mandatory visit, there is always a VS available to cover in-patients and emergencies that may present.


The OOH service providers state in their literature that their vets are OOH specialists ,who are fresh faced and bushy tailed having not worked the previous day. But actually often they are just people who work for donor practices who are,moonlighting and are not speciaIsts in anything. They are in fact just doing a night shift for the extra income.



Should mandatory house visits be removed from the GTPC?

Arguments for

  • Would help reinforce the perception that owners have a responsibility for their own animals.
  • Could improve animal welfare, as animals can often be better treated in practice than at home.
  • It is often impossible to know if a visit is 'clinically' necessary on a phone conversation.

Arguments against

  • Could compromise animal welfare / cause unnecessary suffering if, as a result of removing the requirement to visit at home from GTPC, veterinary surgeons fail to provide home visits.