Did you know that not all vets are the same? Fortunately, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has set up the Practice Standards Scheme to help pet owners navigate the world of pet health care, because it is difficult for clients to know what goes on behind the scenes. At South Lincs Vet Group, we meet all the core requirements to be accredited under this scheme, and we went a step further; we are proud to hold hospital status at our main, Sutterton surgery. In fact, we are the only RCVS accredited hospital in South Lincolnshire. The whole team work tirelessly to maintain the impeccable clinical standards required of us; but what does this mean to you and your pet? We explain more here.

We have always been proud to offer round the clock care and emergency assistance 24/7, 365 days of the year because pets aren’t always poorly during ‘office hours’. Having an unwell pet, or one requiring emergency assistance outside of usual working hours, and especially overnight, can feel all the more worrying to pet owners. So who better to support you and treat your pet than the very team you know and trust with their routine health care? This is a requirement of our hospital status, however, we also feel it is important to resist the trend of moving emergency care to an external out of hours provider, because it makes for a disjointed service to clients and because we hold your pet’s clinical history. This means that we are armed with a great deal of your pet’s personal, medical information, helping us to provide the most appropriate treatment when required.

What about those pets who are hospitalised with us? In addition to a vet being on call for emergencies, they are also available to respond to concerns to do with inpatients. Another requirement of being a hospital is to have nurses care for our inpatients throughout the night. Our diligent and knowledgeable team continue our stringently high standard of patient care when the rest of us are tucked up in bed, so that any deterioration in patient health or wellbeing can be acted upon without delay.

As an accredited practice, we open ourselves up to regular inspections by the RCVS, during which they assess our standards across a range of criteria. They check that we maintain and constantly seek to improve our already high clinical standards. For example, we must, and do, review our team’s performance and the outcomes of the treatment we provide. They also rigorously assess our building and equipment and expect to find the highest level of cleanliness and sterility.

There are certain aspects of our premises that help us create the relaxed environment expected of a hospital too. For example, our separate cat and dog wards to keep the two species apart. Cats can feel very stressed when they’re out of their usual environment, so the last thing they need is a barking dog in the neighbouring kennel. We also have designated isolation wards for patients who might infect others with contagious conditions. We provide a calm and comfortable space for our hospitalised patients that meets each of their specific requirements. We use pheromone diffusers to help relax the cats and dogs in our care and we even have thermostatic vivariums for visiting reptiles.

As a hospital we are required to have certain pieces of equipment to help diagnose and treat disease and we are lucky enough to boast even more useful tools than the minimum requirement. This often enables us to diagnose and respond to conditions in a time efficient manner, allowing tailored and timely treatment of our patients. Our in-house laboratory utilises many machines that allow same-day results for blood and urine analysis. One useful piece of equipment tells us whether your pet’s blood’s ability to clot is adequate, just in case there are any issues that would make surgery more risky.

We have a digital X-ray machine, an ultrasound machine and even a CT scanner, something which few practices possess. CT (computed tomography) gives us a superior image of a patient’s internal structures, an image that far exceeds the detail of standard X-ray. This means we can diagnose many more conditions, more accurately. Other equipment we have includes ECG which allows us to understand the electrical activity within your pet’s heart and endoscopes which allow us to view a patient’s gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts by camera. We also have the ability to perform keyhole surgery, including bitch spays, the benefits of which can include reduced recovery time and less pain.

The hoops we must jump through in order to be recognised as an RCVS accredited hospital are many. All of these checks and recommendations we are happy to adhere to, because we believe that they underpin the gold standard of care that you expect from us, and that your pet deserves.