Terms and Conditions
Thank you for entrusting your pet’s care to the Southfields Veterinary Specialists team. We are committed to providing the highest standard of care for all our patients and communicate fully with you at all times. As part of that commitment this document details our Practice Terms and Conditions. In combination with all the information available on our website (www.southfields.co.uk), we hope to be able to answer any questions you may have. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require further information and/or clarification.
All fees, diets and medication charges are subject to VAT at the current rate. Fee levels are determined by the time spent on a patient’s case and according to the medication, materials and consumables used. You will receive a detailed invoice for every consultation, investigation, surgical procedure or transaction. No medication or food will be dispensed without payment.
Estimate of treatment costs
We are happy to provide a written estimate regarding the expected costs of investigations, a surgical procedure or course of treatment. Please bear in mind that any estimate given can only be approximate due to the unpredictable nature of clinical work. The final invoice may be above or below the original estimate, depending upon clinical circumstances. Where possible we will keep clients updated if costs are likely to exceed the original estimate, although in a clinical emergency this may not always be possible.
Payment, in full, will be expected at the time of consultation, on the discharge of your pet or on collection of medication/diets. Cash, BACs payments, debit and credit cards are all acceptable. We reserve the right to request part-payments during extended stays. We reserve the right to ask for part-payment of the estimated costs on admission.
We do not accept personal cheques or American Express cards.
Inability to pay
If, for any reason, you are unable to settle your account as specified, please discuss the matter as soon as possible with our administration team. Please note that instalments or part payment of any account may ONLY be sanctioned with the express permission of a Director. Failure to make payment within 30 days of the invoice issue date may result in the matter being referred to a third party and additional costs and interest will be added to the outstanding balance.
Pet health insurance and direct claims
Southfields Veterinary Specialists strongly supports the principle of insuring your pet against illness or accidents and we will always submit indirect insurance claims promptly to ensure you are reimbursed as quickly as possible. However, in the case of direct claims, please be aware that it remains your responsibility to settle your account within 30 days, if we have not received payment from your insurance company.
Any anticipated shortfall in the cost of treatment which is not covered by your insurance company will be payable by you to us at the time of making the first direct claim. Any additional shortfall which is owing after the claim has been settled will also be payable by you to us at that time. It is important to appreciate that if, having carried out careful checks with you and your insurers, we decide that we are prepared to undertake a direct claim for the treatment of your pet, this is not a guarantee that your insurers will settle your claim, and if they fail to do so, this will result in a shortfall for which you will be liable to pay us in full.
Prescriptions are available from the Practice. You may obtain Prescription Only Medicines Category V, (POM Vs) directly from us as prescribed by the veterinary surgeon in charge of your pet’s care, or you may ask for a written prescription and obtain these medicines from another veterinary surgeon or pharmacy. A prescription may not be appropriate, however, if your animal is an in-patient or immediate treatment is necessary. Please also note we cannot take responsibility for medications purchased elsewhere. A reasonable charge is made for formulating and supplying a written prescription.
We kindly request that, wherever possible, you give us 48 hours notice for repeat orders of either medication or prescription food. Certain medications may have to be ordered in for the sole treatment of your pet and in these instances, we will require payment in full, even if they are not collected or used. We will always inform you, on request, of the price of any medicine that may be prescribed for your pet.
Clients data and confidentiality
The Data Protection Acts 1984 and 1999 give anyone the right to be informed about any personal data relating to themselves on payment of an administration charge. At the request of a client we will provide copies of relevant clinical records, including any clinical records we have acquired from the referring practice. Please be advised that for training and monitoring purposes, telephone calls may be recorded.
Ownership of clinical records and diagnostic images (including radiographs and scans)
We work in accordance with Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons guidelines i.e.
- Clinical and client records, including radiographic images and similar documents, are the property of, and should be retained by Southfields Veterinary Specialists in the interests of animal welfare and for our own records. In the event of supersession, second opinion or referral, copies with a relevant clinical history will be passed on request to a veterinary surgeon taking over or seeing the case.
- Should copies of radiographs or reports be required, a charge will be incurred.
Concerns and standards
We aim to offer the highest standards of patient and client care at all times, and as such we hope that you never have recourse to complain about the standards of service received from us. However, if you feel that there is something you wish to bring to our attention, please speak to a member of reception in the first instance. Our Practice Manager will assist with any issues that remain unresolved and, where appropriate, they will escalate the matter to the Practice Director.
As a veterinary business, our veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses must comply with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Code of Professional Conduct. If you have concerns relating to the professional conduct of a staff member and have not been able to resolve it with Southfields Veterinary Specialists directly, you can contact the RCVS on their website www.rcvs.org.uk for further details of how to register a complaint.
Southfields Veterinary Specialists views complaints as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future, as well as a chance to address the concerns of the person(s) making the complaint.
Our policy is:
- to provide a fair complaints procedure which is clear and easy to use for anyone wishing to make a complaint
- to publicise the existence of our complaints procedure so that people know how to contact us to make a complaint
- to make sure everyone at Southfields Veterinary Specialists knows what to do if a complaint is received
- to make sure all complaints are investigated fairly and in a timely way
- to make sure that complaints are, wherever possible, resolved and that relationships are repaired;
- to gather information which helps us to improve our service.
Definition of a complaint
A complaint is any expression of dissatisfaction, whether justified or not, regarding any aspect of the service received at Southfields Veterinary Specialists.
Where complaints come from
- Complaints relating to a registered client, must be received directly from the client.
- A complaint regarding the level of service, or the accounts process can be received by email, or in writing, within 2 months of the event. Complaints received outside of this time frame will not be investigated unless the complaint is in relation to the professional conduct of a member of the team. Guidelines relating to professional conduct can be obtained from the RCVS.
- This policy does not cover complaints from colleagues, who should use Southfields Discipline and Grievance Policies.
All complaint information will be handled sensitively, telling only those who need to know and following any relevant data protection requirements.
Overall responsibility for this policy and its implementation lies initially with the Head of service and the team member(s) who the complaint relates to. Unresolved complaints are escalated to the Clinical Director and/or Operations Manager.
This policy is reviewed regularly and updated as required.
Contact details for complaints:
Written complaints may be sent to [email protected] or Southfields Veterinary Specialists, No 1 Bramston Way, Southfields, Laindon, Essex, SS15 6TP
No addition or variation of these conditions will bind the Practice unless it is specifically agreed in writing and signed by the Chief Executive Officer. No agent or person employed by, or under contract with, the Practice has the authority to alter or vary these conditions in any way.