PDSA, the vet charity for pets in need, has carried out a remarkable 500,000 phone appointments since the start of lockdown, as demand for the charity’s services has surged due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
In response to the Covid-19 crisis, the charity – which provides free and low cost vet care to the pets of owners who are suffering from financial hardship – introduced a new phone appointment system back in March during the first lockdown. Since then, the scheme has meant over half a million remote appointments have been provided to poorly pets and their owners, ensuring they could still receive the vital veterinary advice they needed, despite lockdown restrictions.
PDSA Vet, Paul Manktelow, said: “Sadly, even during a pandemic, our pets can still become sick or get injured and need urgent veterinary treatment. When the first lockdown started looming, it was clear that we needed to drastically adapt the way we worked across our 48 Pet Hospitals around the UK to help keep everyone safe and help stop the spread of Covid-19, while still providing support to desperate pet owners seeking our help. Providing remote consults has allowed pets to access the essential veterinary care they need, while freeing up the space and time needed in our pet hospitals to treat the sickest pets and emergencies in a socially distant manner..
“Thanks to kind support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we were able to quickly develop new ways of working, allowing many of our dedicated vets and nurses to work from home providing vital pet advice remotely. Leading into the first lockdown we started offering our first remote consultations. Within weeks we were delivering around 2,000 phone appointments daily, which has now risen to over 2,300 a day.”
Remote consultations have enabled PDSA staff to help all but the most serious cases over the phone, offering advice, and posting out or delivering essential medications. This ensured the charity could keep their vet teams, owners and pets safe while continuing to provide life-saving emergency treatments at its Pet Hospitals.
Hazel Johnstone, Longterm Partnerships Manager at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “Pets have been a lifeline for so many people during the lockdowns this year – providing companionship and helping improve mental wellbeing for owners during incredibly difficult times. So for those who face financial hardship causing increased worry when a pet falls ill during the pandemic, it’s vital they’re able to continue to access veterinary care. By supporting the development of these remote consults for PDSA, players of People’s Postcode Lottery have ensured that hundreds of thousands of pet owners always have somewhere to turn, even during the darkest of times.”
But PDSA is now facing a double threat – the pandemic has resulted in PDSA’s income decreasing by £3m a month in 2020 due to all fundraising events being cancelled and its charity shops temporarily closing their doors. This is coupled with an expected increase in unprecedented demand for its services as many more pet owners fall on hard times.
PDSA Vet Paul Manktelow continued: “Delivering half a million remote appointments in eight months just shows what vital assistance PDSA provides for a huge number of pet owners. For many, we are their only emergency service – a safety net when times are tough, but we rely entirely on generous public support to keep our charitable veterinary services running.
“As we enter what is likely to be a challenging winter, we know many people are facing extremely difficult times through no fault of their own, and their pets are a lifeline, providing unconditional love and comfort during these worrying times. We greatly appreciate every donation, to help us to continue to be there for much-loved pets in need.”
To find out more about PDSA, its Pet Care Crisis Emergency Appeal and how you can help, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/whywematter