Nine-out-of-10 vets report intimidation from clients

Veterinary teams are experiencing a high level of intimidation from clients bringing their animals into practices across the UK, according to a survey of more than 1,600 British Veterinary Association (BVA) members.

The survey found that 85 per cent of vets or a member of their team have felt intimidated by a client’s language or behaviour. This has promoted the BVA and British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) to offer advice on dealing with this issue.

While around half of vets have felt threatened by their clients’ actions or language many vets commented that support staff such as receptionists often bear the brunt of threatening behaviour.

Those vets who work with companion animals or in a mixed practice are particularly likely to have experienced difficult clients with 89 per cent reporting some form of intimidating experience. Younger vets and female vets were significantly more likely to have experienced some form of intimidation.

BVA’s survey revealed that animal owners’ intimidating language and behaviour is often related to the cost of treatment, with a staggering 98 per cent of vets saying that at some time they feel under pressure from clients to waive fees or to accept the promise of late payment.

Sam Morgan, president of the BVNA, said: “We understand there can be a lot of distress when pets are ill, but this is no excuse to be aggressive or intimidating to a member of the veterinary team.”

BVA president John Fishwick added: “Every situation is different and has to be dealt with on an individual basis, but it’s concerning to see the figures around challenging client behaviour and fees.”

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