2020 was a year of change for most businesses, including those in the veterinary sector. New restrictions and demands have resulted in new expectations and lasting impacts in the way veterinary practices operate to succeed during these challenging times. Keeping an eye on the latest developments and trends is critical to preparing your veterinary practice for what lies ahead.

From Covid hygiene guidelines to hiring locum vets and the rise in pet ownership, let’s take a look at how the pandemic has changed the UK veterinary industry.

Covid Hygiene Guidelines

Since the onset of the pandemic, veterinary practices are considered “essential businesses”, providing animal health support and other essential services for the community. And as veterinary practices continue even during this pandemic, vets must create protocols to protect their health and safety and that of their clients.

The biggest risk to Covid-19 exposure for vets and their staff is person-to-person contact. Staff must not come to work if they are showing symptoms of Covid-19, and interventions to minimise virus transmission such as social distancing and wearing of face masks must be in place. Vets must also limit the number of clients they can see in a day and routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the clinic.

Upward Trend in Locum Vets

Companies that are currently understaffed because of the Covid-19 pandemic have utilised locum tenens so they can continue their business operations. The same goes for veterinary practices that need to hire new staff to meet the demands of the modern vet workforce, leading to them using recruitment services of locum vet recruiters, Vet Finders. In fact, locum vets are seeing an upward trend lately as practices look to stay on top of demand.

One of the benefits of hiring locum staff is that it’s cheaper than hiring permanent hires. Given the unpredictable economic situation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, it just makes sense for companies to look for ways to save money on operating costs. If you hire a full-time staff, you will need to factor in the benefits, sign-up bonuses, and other hiring costs. Hiring locum tenens is much cheaper in terms of upfront investment compared to hiring permanent staff.

Lockdown Pets Increase Custom

According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association, about 3.2 million households in the UK have adopted a pet since the pandemic started. Even though the research highlights an increase among young owners, about 11% of all households in the UK have welcomed a new pet in their homes during the pandemic. Because of the increasing number of pet ownership, the demand for veterinary services has also increased.

To meet the demand, some vets must extend working hours, hire more staff, and cancel some appointments. Yet despite these challenges, vets remain committed to providing quality pet health care while adapting to keep pace with the increasing demand for veterinary services. Since most veterinary practices in the UK are finding themselves at high capacity, an increase in the cost of vet services will also be inevitable.

Given the strong performance of the animal health industry, one thing is clear – pets are a significant part of the family, and their health care remains a priority.