Worrying signs over pandemic’s effects on vets

New survey data has shown the coronavirus pandemic is continuing to hit practice revenues harder in the UK than anywhere else in the world.

Stage four of CM Research’s COVID-19 Veterinary Industry Tracker also highlighted the growing number of vets planning to leave the profession due to the seismic impact of the virus.

Revenues down

While some signs of recovery exist elsewhere in Europe, UK practice revenues continue to tumble, although less sharply, with 6% reporting a continued week-on-week fall in revenue, down from 37% in wave three of the survey.

The curve appears to be flattening, however, with more than half of practices reporting an increased number of client appointments – up from 21% in the previous wave – and greater availability of staff.

Lasting impact

CM Research managing director Carlos Michelsen said: “While veterinarians are seeing some benefits to pets (increased awareness by owners of pet condition and early detection of issues), there are worrying signs that stress levels and increased workloads (despite furloughing) may have a lasting effect on veterinarians – some of whom have now decided to leave the profession for good.

“On the financial side, while revenues are still not up compared to the previous week, at least the rate of decline has slowed down markedly.

“In fact, practices are at a point where revenues will start to increase and continue to do so, as has been seen in other countries.”

Losses

But despite signs revenue might start to improve, the survey showed big problems still exist, with more than a third of the vets surveyed across both independent and corporate UK practices reporting either job loss or loss of income.

A total of 4% of practices have closed completely due to the virus, while almost a quarter have laid off staff with full pay (23%) and 7% have been forced to lay people off with nothing.

Mental health

As well as the financial concerns, the ongoing situation is also taking a heavy toll on the mental health of veterinary professionals everywhere.

One UK vet panellist said: “My work almost completely disappeared [and] I do not qualify for any state support above £90 per week.

“I have been extremely frustrated that I am having to compete with veterinarians who have 80% of their wages paid by the state, yet continue to pick up shifts when they should stay at home.

“My hourly wage has halved due to these people and there is now no work. This has had an extreme impact on my mental health. I want to leave this profession even more so than usual.”

Source: Vet Times

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