Fee for a consultation

Feb 5, 2009
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#1
Hi. I need to discuss my pony's medical conditions with my vet. She is almost impossible to contact by phone although she does reply to my emails. She did the 6 month check on my pony a few weeks ago. I was in the middle of asking her all my questions when she received & answered a phone call. She then said she would "have to go". How rude I thought but assumed it was a call out to an emergency. I have now thought about making an appointment to see her during the standard surgery hours so that I can finish asking all my questions which hopefully will lead to a proper discussion of my pony's condition. Has anyone else had the same experience? What would a vet charge for a consultation during surgery hours?
 

Trewsers

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Oct 13, 2004
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#2
I've not had an experience like yours - how annoying for you. It seems a shame she is hard to reach by phone. If it's not urgent can you discuss on the next routine visit, but before she comes email her and make it known you have some issues you want to discuss?
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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#3
I think it depends on whether you feel attached to your vet.

If you don't, and you hadn't overrun the expected time on the annual health check, I would email her and say that she cut short your consultation when you hadn't finished discussing you pony's condition, you still have things to discuss and you'd like another meeting or phone call. When she replies I think you should tell her that you don't expect to pay extra!
 
Feb 5, 2009
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#4
I think it depends on whether you feel attached to your vet.

If you don't, and you hadn't overrun the expected time on the annual health check, I would email her and say that she cut short your consultation when you hadn't finished discussing you pony's condition, you still have things to discuss and you'd like another meeting or phone call. When she replies I think you should tell her that you don't expect to pay extra!
Thanks for your reply. No, i certainly don't feel attached to my vet! My basic feeling is that they do as little as possible for as much money as they can get of out of me & that handing out drugs is the limit of their interest in helping my pony. I didn't know there was an "expected" time for a health check. The time available for a call-out has never been mentioned. I realise vets don't have endless time to spend with clients & their animals but if there is a time limit to a call-out then shouldn't the vets be explaining that to me? So that's another question I need to ask when I manage to contact the vet!
 
Feb 5, 2009
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#5
I've not had an experience like yours - how annoying for you. It seems a shame she is hard to reach by phone. If it's not urgent can you discuss on the next routine visit, but before she comes email her and make it known you have some issues you want to discuss?
Yes it is annoying especially when you see the TV vets giving excellent customer service & saying they "care" about the animals they treat! That is definitely NOT my experience of 2 vets practices. i am tempted to contact one of the Yorkshire Vets for help LOL.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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#6
Realistically there must be some sort of time allocation to an appointment, otherwise how could they plan the day & give appointment times to other clients? Yes it has to be flexible, but we also need to realise a 9am appointment for a routine jab doesn't mean we can still have the vet there at 11am while we get them to look at every bump & google raised query.

If I were you I'd probably drop an email to the practice saying that due to what you assume was an emergency your vet had to leave your annual health check appointment on dd/mm/yy before you'd asked some important questions & you'd be grateful if she could contact you soon to answer them. I'm assuming they were questions relevant to a health check & not issues that would merit a separate call out.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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#7
Our vets allocate appointments based on the expected time it will take to complete the task booked, as @carthorse says they need to know roughly how long it will take to schedule a list of appointments, they also charge for time in minutes (i.e. the bill will say "examination - 20 mins" etc.).

Its not rude for them to pick up an emergency call and then leave, it is the nature of their business and they are legally obliged to respond to an emergency. If the shoe were on the other foot and you had a horse down with colic and the vet didn't pick up the phone because they were doing a routine health check or did pick up and said they were talking to someone just now and would get you to when finished, you would be upset. You could request a consult, but there is still the chance the vet could get an emergency call out even if it is in normal working hours.

I have a good relationship with my vet and find it far easier to email her so that she can respond at a time when she isn't busy, or ask her to call me to discuss something which she will often do when she is driving between other clients so it non-chargeable time. TBH I have found the service provided by bigger private practices (corporately owned ones are worse tho) surpasses the smaller 1 or 2 vet ones, because they have more vets to choose from in an emergency so routine visits are less often disturbed, they also have better facilities and admin staff etc. which allows the vets to focus more on the animals than running a business.
 
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Feb 5, 2009
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#8
Realistically there must be some sort of time allocation to an appointment, otherwise how could they plan the day & give appointment times to other clients? Yes it has to be flexible, but we also need to realise a 9am appointment for a routine jab doesn't mean we can still have the vet there at 11am while we get them to look at every bump & google raised query.

If I were you I'd probably drop an email to the practice saying that due to what you assume was an emergency your vet had to leave your annual health check appointment on dd/mm/yy before you'd asked some important questions & you'd be grateful if she could contact you soon to answer them. I'm assuming they were questions relevant to a health check & not issues that would merit a separate call out.
Thanks for your advice. Today I have emailed my vet asking for an appointment at the surgery to discuss my pony's treatment. I will let you know what happens.
 
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Feb 5, 2009
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#9
Update. Still waiting for reply from vet. My emails are initially sent to the admin team who then forward them to the vet. Not even had an acknowledgement. Great customer service! So am planning to book an appointment on Friday with her or another equine vet.
 

Mary Poppins

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Oct 10, 2004
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#10
My vet is always available on the end of the phone. He doesn't always answer but I tend to text him and then he calls me back when he is driving between appointments. I have had a lot of contact with him over the last year as my horse has been very poorly so we have struck up a good relationship and I think that this is the key.

If you find you cannot communicate properly with this vet, find a new one.
 
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Feb 5, 2009
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#11
Update. After exchanging several emails my vet agreed to meet me at the surgery for a 10 min consultation. I asked for 30mins but she decided that 10mins would be sufficient. So I emailed her a copy of all the topics I want to discuss (treatments for PPID and arthritis) & said if she still thinks we can cover all these topics in 10mins then we'll go for it. Then I found out the cost of a 10min appointment: £35. I am shocked. I compared this fee to my private dentist (there aren't any NHS dentists where I live so i have to pay). Dentist charges £65 for a 30mins check-up which includes time for advice giving & scale & polish. That's £2 a minute. The vet is charging £3.50 per minute. I think £35 for 10mins is acceptable if the vet is examining and/or treating a sick animal but to charge the same for discussing a range of treatments seems OTT. Am i being unreasonable expecting my vet to offer free advice to me as a registered client whose pony is currently under her care? Would be interested in other members views. Thanks.
 

carthorse

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Jan 6, 2006
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#12
Did you point out to them that the things you wanted to talk about were things you'd tried to discuss in the 6 month check up before it was interrupted by her phone call?

My vets are generous with their advice, though I've never asked for a private meeting & I probably would, under normal circumstances, expect to pay for that.

Realistically it sounds like you're either going to have to accept it or change vet practice.
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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#14
Our small animal vet offers 15 minute appointments, which cost £30. It doesn't seem a lot to me for a professional as qualified as a vet, Accountants and lawyers often charge £100 for 15 minutes!

ETA the original point to me was that you felt short changed in your original conversation. I don't know how long the vet spent with you, but that's the main issue that I see.
 
Feb 5, 2009
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#15
Thanks for all your replies. they were all very helpful. I wonder whether the vet assumes that the fee structure & standards of service have been explained to me by admin staff (they haven't). I think it would also be useful to emphasise/explain during our meeting that i have always understood (assumed) the provision of advice relating to my pony's care was part of the fee i pay for visits & examinations. My feeling is that the difficulties i have been experiencing are to do with misunderstandings, miscommunication & lack of information about what kind of service i can expect from the vet practice. My meeting with the vet is on Wednesday morning so i will post an update afterwards.
 
Feb 5, 2009
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#17
Our small animal vet offers 15 minute appointments, which cost £30. It doesn't seem a lot to me for a professional as qualified as a vet, Accountants and lawyers often charge £100 for 15 minutes!

ETA the original point to me was that you felt short changed in your original conversation. I don't know how long the vet spent with you, but that's the main issue that I see.
The vet visited to vaccinate my 2 ponies. Also do a 6-month check-up on the shetland who has PPID & arthritis as well as take a blood sample to test for ACTH. The vet asked how my Shetland had been during the last 6 months. I could only give her a brief summary because his condition is variable from day-to-day & from morning to afternoon. So i didn't take up a lot of her time in answering her question. All that took about 20/25mins. Both ponies were standing at the gate, eating hay, waiting for the vet to arrive so she didn't have to wait for me to catch them & bring them over to her. I managed to ask how much X rays would be. I didn't get the chance to ask anything else e.g advice about nerve blocks, because she answered the phone & said she "had to go". As she got into the car i asked when I might hear the result of the blood test. Of course completing the passports took several minutes. So the visit took 25-30mins.
 
Feb 5, 2009
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#18
Update. After exchanging several emails my vet agreed to meet me at the surgery for a 10 min consultation. I asked for 30mins but she decided that 10mins would be sufficient. So I emailed her a copy of all the topics I want to discuss (treatments for PPID and arthritis) & said if she still thinks we can cover all these topics in 10mins then we'll go for it. Then I found out the cost of a 10min appointment: £35. I am shocked. I compared this fee to my private dentist (there aren't any NHS dentists where I live so i have to pay). Dentist charges £65 for a 30mins check-up which includes time for advice giving & scale & polish. That's £2 a minute. The vet is charging £3.50 per minute. I think £35 for 10mins is acceptable if the vet is examining and/or treating a sick animal but to charge the same for discussing a range of treatments seems OTT. Am i being unreasonable expecting my vet to offer free advice to me as a registered client whose pony is currently under her care? Would be interested in other members views. Thanks.
UPDATE. Have visited the surgery & had a discussion with my vet. We briefly discussed my pony's Prascend dosage. I found out that field visits are for 10-15 mins per pony. She was surprised I hadn't been told that. So her visit a few weeks ago to vaccinate my 2 ponies & do check up & take blood sample from PPID-Shetland shouldn't have been more than 30 mins. It was actually less than 30mins. She acknowledged that my ponies are always ready for her when she arrives & don't resist treatment, unlike some of her clients' horses so her time at my field is used efficiently. I asked her if giving advice to clients was part of her paid work because until recently I had never questioned that advice may not be part of the service. She explained that a limited amount of advice can be given during field visits although the emphasis is really on the actual treatment or examination of an animal. The practice is currently reviewing how to charge for advice-giving rather than increase charges for visits & consultations in the surgery. I explained that as a registered client i need to be clear on how much time/opportunity I have to ask for advice during field visits, in an email or during a phone call. We then sorted out some other misunderstandings. Overall I feel happier although I can't get my head round how to differentiate between hands-on treatment of an animal & discussions about its treatment including advice-giving. Perhaps i should get out more :)
 
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Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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#19
Its good that you have been able to iron out some kinks. I think a treatment plan discussion is absolutely part of the treatment/exam of the animal, but can understand that some folks (not implying that is you) can want to talk at great length about day to day management and care which isn't directly part of the treatment plan so can understand them excluding that.
Its difficult as an owner as there isn't a professional '**medical issue** care/management' class or professional that you can employ to learn how to manage lifelong things, so often you just end up learning as you go about what works or you rely on your vet/farrier/physio to give advise on how to manage it which is perhaps outside of their specialty.
 
Feb 5, 2009
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#20
Its good that you have been able to iron out some kinks. I think a treatment plan discussion is absolutely part of the treatment/exam of the animal, but can understand that some folks (not implying that is you) can want to talk at great length about day to day management and care which isn't directly part of the treatment plan so can understand them excluding that.
Its difficult as an owner as there isn't a professional '**medical issue** care/management' class or professional that you can employ to learn how to manage lifelong things, so often you just end up learning as you go about what works or you rely on your vet/farrier/physio to give advise on how to manage it which is perhaps outside of their specialty.
Totally agree with everything you have said. Thank you for replying.
 
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