NiVS in growth mode despite pandemic
Aidan McAlinden, a partner at NI’s first specialist-led, multi-disciplinary small animal hospital, says that following the upheaval of Covid-19 lockdown, he and his colleagues have put new working practices in place and are now moving forward with a very positive outlook.
Like all practices, Northern Ireland Veterinary Specialists (NiVS) switched to emergency work only for the first three weeks of the lockdown. Aiden compares that experience to weekend call-out duty, but as RCVS guidelines began to be slowly relaxed, the scope of work at the practice broadened:
‘We are a referral hospital, so as the primary carers started seeing more patients, so did we and eventually, it got quite busy,’ reports Aiden.
Staff at NiVS were split into two teams, one which worked remotely carrying out consultations via apps such as Zoom and the other which worked on-site at the practice premises near Hillsborough.
Speaking to NI Veterinary Today at the end of June, Aidan indicated that all staff would be returning to the practice from July 6 because workload had reached a level where everyone’s presence was required:
‘We have a very small number of support staff and generally speaking, the feedback from everyone who returns to work is that they are very happy to get back and re-join the team,’ added Aidan. ‘There’s an isolation that comes from being away from a small team and there can be anxiety because the workplace that you are returning to doesn’t look like the one you left. Also, the people that are already here can have a better handle on the new way that things are working, so integrating people back into the workplace can be a challenge too.’
Aidan said that the outlook for the practice, which opened earlier this year, was ‘really positive’. He believes that because the business is new, it will be agile enough to adapt easily to the new regime:
‘Our team has been flexible and adaptable to these new ways of working and we are still managing to grow the business in a pandemic, so hats off to them, everyone is really working hard to make a success of this.’