RCVS poll shows an improving situation among practices

RCVS poll shows an improving situation among practices

Many practices are getting back to normal after the upheaval of the Covid-19 lockdown and the number of staff working remotely has dropped considerable.

Those are just two of the findings of the just-published RCVS report on the economic impact of the pandemic on veterinary practices across the UK. This is the fourth time that the College has investigated the effects of the virus on the profession in this way.

The survey was conducted between September 1 and 7 and was sent to the 3,077 UK veterinary practices for which the RCVS holds a unique email address.

Responses to the survey totalled 241, representing an eight per cent response rate and an increase on the 196 responses gathered in the third iteration of the survey, held between June 12 and 16.

Among the key findings in the latest report were:

  • For many veterinary practices, things appear to be getting back to normal, with a notable increase in respondents saying their practices were operating a ‘near normal’ (58 per cent) or ‘business as usual’ (27 per cent) in-person service.
  • Far fewer practices have staff who are self-isolating and only a small percentage reported that they had staff in quarantine after returning from abroad or after being contacted via the Test and Trace service.
  • There has also been a big improvement in the percentage of respondents who reported their practice’s turnover had stayed the same or increased compared to pre-Covid-19 levels (56 per cent). In addition, for 80 per cent of respondents, their practice’s cash flow position had stayed the same or even improved compared to pre-Covid-19.
  • There has been a big drop in the percentage of staff currently furloughed; just 10 per cent of respondents, for example, had veterinary surgeons currently furloughed compared to 47 per cent in June.
  • And notably fewer practices had staff working remotely: 26 per cent compared to 45 per cent in June and 55 per cent when the first survey was run in April. There has also been a big drop in respondents reporting that their practices were using remote consulting, from 80 per cent to 50 per cent, although this still means that half of the practices are using it.

Lizzie Lockett, RCVS CEO, says that the survey has shown that for many practices, business is continuing to progress towards normality.

‘It’s heartening to see that cases of staff needing to self-isolate or enter quarantine had decreased, complemented by an equally improving situation regarding furloughed staff – only 10 per cent of practices now had veterinary surgeons on furlough,’ added Ms Lockett.

‘The specific economic impact of the current pandemic on veterinary practices remains stable at this time, with more than three-quarters of respondents noting no negative impact on their practice’s cash flow.

‘However, the pandemic is far from over, with many areas of the UK entering into new periods of greater restriction even since our survey was carried out.’

Ms Lockett urged vets to engage fully with the College’s fifth survey, which will be carried out in November, in order to help paint as full a picture of the situation nationwide as possible.