Do animals in the UK get better treatment than humans?…….

Update blogs

“This is an interesting article recently posted on the BBC News web-site. Soon I will be publishing an Alternative Angle post about my own experiences”


‘The vet will see you now….’

9 August 2015

How does the care and compassion shown to animals when they are sick compare to the treatment patients receive in the NHS?

IMG_0112“I’m really impressed with the care she gets,” says GP Dr Graham Easton referring to┬áhis dog, Molly.

There are, of course, a number of important differences between the care humans and animals receive. In the UK, veterinary care is not free at the point of delivery whereas in the NHS, every human patient is treated equally according to their need and not their bank balance.

Arguably, the health system is under severe strain as a result. Dealing with complex human beings is very different to dealing with sick animals, but it has been suggested that lessons could be learned from watching how vets organise and deliver care and, particularly, how animals are looked after at the end of their lives.

In a vets’ practice in Chipping Norton, there is a separate waiting area for dogs and cats.

According to head vet, Martin Whitehead, they have made a point of thinking about the experience of their patients.

“It’s not nice for a cat to be seated next to a big bulky dog,” he says.

There’s a big airy treatment room and a diagnostics lab – complete with an X-ray and ultrasound scanner for looking at the abdomen and the heart – and it’s all under one roof.

When a blood sample from Biggles the boxer, who has cancer and is off his food, is taken for testing in the in-house lab, the results come back very quickly.

GP Graham Easton is envious. saying: “It would be lovely to get blood results back that quickly. Not many GPs’ surgeries can offer that kind of service.”

Molly has always received excellent care from her vet, says owner Dr Graham Easton

Vets are true generalists, in every sense of the term. They can take care of pets with cancer and carry out surgery on a cruciate ligament injury in a dog, for example, without the need for referral to a specialist or the mention of a long waiting list.

But it all comes down to whether the owner can afford it. The private care system vets operate under means owners have to pay for the care their pets receive, or take out pet insurance to help pay for it.

This is likely to make owners think before they attend, which helps make the system more efficient.

However, a lack of evidence in veterinary medicine means vets have little research to back up their choice of treatment – and this could lead to unnecessary operations, Mr Whitehead suggests.

“It would be lovely to have a big database of evidence to rely on,” he says.

In contrast, human medicine is well-researched and very evidence-based. The guidelines are written down and recommended. On the whole, doctors know if people are going to benefit from a particular treatment or not.

They can also communicate with a human patient and discuss the best options for his or her treatment.

But the biggest challenges for the NHS are in how the systems work.

A common complaint is that it’s difficult to get an on-the-day GP appointment without seeing a different GP from the previous time, thereby losing something very precious to patients – “continuity of care”.

BBC News 9 August 2015

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