Covid restrictions linked to shocking abuse of vets
Two thirds of vets working in small animal practices have been on the receiving end of abusive, aggressive or threatening behaviour from clients.
The British Veterinary Association made the shocking revelation in its 2020 Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, which also found 57% of all vets had been on the receiving end of abuse from clients.
BVA James Russell, below, said: “It’s simply unacceptable that any veterinary professional should have had to deal with threatening behaviour and abuse just for doing their job during a global pandemic. Veterinary teams have worked flat out over the past year to prioritise the animals in their care, and had to adapt their working arrangements incredibly quickly to keep colleagues and clients as safe as possible.
“It’s heartening to see that many vets responding to our survey found that the majority of their clients were happy to comply with safety measures, and really appreciated everything that their practice was doing to care for their animals against such a tough and unprecedented backdrop.
“But the actions of a small, but aggressive, minority serve as a stark reminder of the added challenges that the workforce has been contending with day to day at what is already an incredibly stressful and difficult time.”
Intimidating behaviour was also directed to other team members, with 82% of respondents aware of this, up from 75% in the 2019 survey.
To cope with Covid, practices have had to modify their working practices, closing premises to owners and often confining client interactions to the car park.
While many survey respondents said the vast majority of clients were understanding, appreciative and compliant with COVID measures, some reacted negatively, ignored requests to wear masks and socially distance, refused to pay for treatment, made unreasonable demands for appointments or questioned judgements on best care and treatments.
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