30 May 2019 | Animal health
One Health: The vet will see you now
17 Jul 2015 | Robin Hargreaves
A client commented that they had listened to a Radio 4 programme that morning comparing the provision of health services through private veterinary practice and the service we, as humans, can expect from our healthcare providers.
At the end of one of my consultations last week, a client commented that they had listened to a Radio 4 programme that morning comparing the provision of health services through private veterinary practice and the service we, as humans, can expect from our healthcare providers. I was pleased to hear the comparison was very favourable.
Could the NHS learn from veterinary practice?
In the programme Dr Graham Easton met with vets, medical policy advisors, clients in receipt of medical and veterinary care, and a palliative care consultant to investigate what the NHS could learn from veterinary practice.
Dr Easton discovered that the NHS has borrowed many ideas from private medical care but has not looked to our profession to see if there are any lessons to be learned from the way client and patient care has evolved in private veterinary practice.
Two striking conclusions most could agree on were that the one stop shop approach provided by the general veterinary practice was popular with clients both for its responsiveness and simpler patient journey. However the NHS had a stronger evidence base for its treatments that might lead to less unnecessary or inappropriate intervention.
Generalists par excellence
Dr Easton was struck by the compassionate and gentle approach he had witnessed vets applying to their animal patients which compared favourably to the more impersonal relationship the human patient often has with their care provider.
The veterinary surgeon was described as "the generalist par excellence" where clients were more often able to develop a lasting relationship with a clinician over the lifetime of their pet, something that had been somewhat lost in human primary health care.
End of life management
Those who have read my previous blog posts will know that I have a particular interest in the way we, as a profession, manage end of life decisions and euthanasia.
The final section of the programme therefore resonated very strongly with me. One of our veterinary colleagues, Prof Bob Michell, spoke movingly of his wife’s struggle with a painful terminal illness. He compared her suffering of when the disease had progressed beyond the help of the superb palliative care that was given, with the loss of their dear Labrador who was "eased into sleep by a friend in the garden on a summer’s evening". Later, in the final stages of her own disease, Pauline had expressed the wish to pass as idyllically as her beloved Merlin.
Learning from a veterinary approach
It was gratifying to hear a One Health topic discussed so thoughtfully from a medical perspective, and I was proud that the conclusions made were that the medical profession could learn from a veterinary approach to compassionate client and patient care.
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