Coquet Vets: our first year has been an adventure
2020 will certainly go down as one to remember for most of us, but for me, it won’t be remembered for just Covid-19. I will also remember it for the year that I was part of a team that embarked on a new adventure and opened a new business.
Having worked in the veterinary industry for 20 years, setting up a new small animal independent practice seemed like the obvious next step.
Having the opportunity to get to know my clients and have continuity of care really helps to build the trust that we need to treat the animals presented to us.
Our small team of two nurses and two vets (plus an additional vet on some Saturdays) spent two months preparing and setting up Coquet Vets. We opened our doors on March 3rd, 2020.
Our small but experienced team was immediately able to implement protocols that we knew worked well. The team work soon clicked into place and everything seemed to be going well – until a global pandemic hit.
To say this was a blow to our team is an understatement. As I am sure everyone did, we all went through a series of emotions. Disbelief, denial, fear, and eventually acceptance.
After a long discussion with my business partner and following guidance from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, we decided to keep the practice open. We furloughed both nurses, and my other vet and I went it alone. Unfortunately, we are not eligible for any grants or help.
Our plan was to see emergency appointments, give advice over the phone, register any new clients, and generally keep things ticking over until the lockdown ended.
I have two children under the age of nine, and my husband is a farmer, so homeschooling was down to me too. Thankfully, over the next three months I did manage to juggle work and homeschooling, calling on one of my lovely vet colleagues to come into work to act as my nurse when it was needed.
Over those months the workload slowly but surely increased and, thankfully, we managed to unfurlough our team and start getting back to the new normal.
We have many new clients, and we are able to provide the level of care that we aspire to give. Our clients have been fantastic. They are all so understanding of the protocols we have put in place and they generally all come in with smiles on their faces (hidden under their masks, of course). Our reception area is so big it allows us to be able to let clients sit and wait for their appointment safely.
As a vet I have taken an oath to ensure that no animals suffer and that is something that’s ingrained. Guidelines (including Covid-19 and RCVS) are very much open to interpretation. This leaves everyone a little confused. We would encourage all owners to phone us.
All our staff are trained to ask the right questions and we can then decide who should be seen and when. What we do not want to have happen is that an animal’s treatment is delayed when early intervention could prevent an issue from escalating.
For me, Covid-19 has made me realise with stark clarity what is important to me – my family, our health, my friends and their health, my vocation, and a belief that if we can get through this we can get through most things.
Emily Renton BVM&S MRCVS
Coquet Vets: 01665 252 250