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Veteris Legal

Terms of Service

Last update: June 18, 2024

Introduction

Thank you for choosing Veterinary Emergency Services Limited, trading as Veteris, for your emergency veterinary needs. We understand that requiring emergency veterinary services can be stressful for you and your pet, and our goal is to alleviate that stress with compassionate, professional care.

Veteris is committed to the highest standards of veterinary care, adhering to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) guidance and ethical practices, and we may refuse treatment of your pet if we cannot satisfy ourselves that these standards of practice can be met.

1. Acceptance of Terms

1.1 By utilising our services, you agree to these comprehensive Terms & Conditions, which govern our service delivery and your use of Veteris services.

1.2 Please review these terms carefully before using our services. When you book an appointment with Veteris, we will require you to confirm your agreement to the call out fee as well as our terms (which you will be able to access on our website) and, by continuing with the appointment and engaging with Veteris, you acknowledge that you understand and agree to these terms which will form the contract between us.

1.3 Arrival at our premises or requesting our mobile Veteris services does not automatically constitute acceptance of service provision. We reserve the right to decline to provide services under certain circumstances but will endeavour to recommend alternative providers where possible.

2. Service Overview

2.1 Mobile Veterinary Services (Veteris-Mobile): Our mobile service offers emergency veterinary care within the London M25 area, providing a home emergency response.

2.2 24/7 Practice (Veteris-Shoreditch): Our Shoreditch practice operates around the clock, fully equipped to handle the most critical cases with advanced veterinary care.

2.3 The services provided by Veteris Mobile and Veteris Shoreditch shall together be referred to as the Services provided by Veteris under this contract.

2.4 We will normally agree to a treatment plan with you for the supply of our Services, following our initial examination of your pet. In an emergency however, we may not be able to prepare a treatment plan for you and we reserve the right to provide such veterinary services as are reasonably necessary, for your pet.

2.5 If, following examination, any procedures are advised as part of our Services, your written consent (physical or e-signature) will be required. We will endeavour to obtain your consent prior to administering the procedure, but you agree that we have the legal right to provide your pet with emergency treatment essential for your pet’s welfare without your consent, where your consent cannot be easily obtained.

2.6 We may prescribe medicines for your pet whilst they are in our care. You will be informed of the price of any medicine(s) that may be prescribed for your pet and agree to pay for such medicines as part of the fees.

3. Fee Structure and Payment for Veteris Services

Veteris is dedicated to offering transparent and understandable fee structures for both our mobile veterinary services (Veteris-Mobile) and our 24/7 hospital-based services (Veteris-Shoreditch). Below is a detailed explanation of the fees associated with each service model:

3.1 Mobile Veterinary Services (Veteris-Mobile):

Initial Assessment and Fee Estimate: Upon scheduling a mobile visit, our triage team will provide you with a consultation fee. An initial estimate for any additional test(s) or procedure(s) and/or any potential treatments will then be provided to you by the Veterinary Surgeon on-site. This estimate will be given after the first clinical assessment of your pet’s clinical status and will depend on the specifics of the emergency. You will be asked to agree to the estimate before we treat your pet.

Service Charges: Mobile service fees encompass the cost of the veterinary professional's travel time, the consultation, and any immediate treatments, procedures, or diagnostics that can be performed at your location.

Handling Special Cases: When a pet cannot be safely treated on-site due to behavioural issues or the complexity of care required, we may recommend transferring your pet to our Veteris-Shoreditch hospital for further treatment. Additional fees for hospital-based care will be communicated as part of the ongoing care plan.

3.2 Hospital-Based Veterinary Services (Veteris-Shoreditch):

Hospital Consultation Fees: Upon arrival at our 24/7 practice, a consultation fee will be applied, which covers the examination of your pet by our veterinary professionals and the development of a treatment plan.

Treatment and Diagnostic Fees: Following the initial consultation, we will provide a detailed estimate for the recommended treatments, procedures, diagnostics, and any hospitalisation if required. This estimate includes all aspects of care, from diagnostic tests and treatments to overnight stays and specialised procedures.

Estimate Adjustments: As with mobile services, the nature of veterinary emergencies means that initial estimates may need to be adjusted based on the evolving needs of your pet. We commit to informing you of any changes to the treatment plan and associated costs, but please note that this may not always be possible in advance of the treatment of your pet (see clause 3.6).


3.3 Both mobile and hospital-based Services fees are payable in pounds sterling and are subject to VAT at the prevailing rate. We ensure that all fees, including additional charges for medications, diagnostics, or specialised treatments, are clearly itemised in our estimates, providing full transparency.

3.4 Payment is due during service for mobile consultations and upon discharge for hospital-based treatments. We accept various payment methods, and in certain cases, a deposit may be required for extensive treatments or hospitalisation. Accounts are due for settlement at our discretion at the end of the consultation or treatment, the discharge of your pet, or upon collection of medicines and other pet requisites. You may settle the account using cash or a credit/debit card – we accept Maestro, Cirrus, Solo, Mastercard, Visa, Delta, and American Express (American Express is subject to a 2% card fee). At our discretion, we usually require that a deposit of 50% of the estimated costs be paid at the time of admission to our clinic for any procedures or hospitalisation. Other deposits might be required over the course of longer hospital stays or for specific procedures diagnosed during a hospital stay. Should an invoice not be settled at the time of consultation or upon collection of your pet following hospitalisation. An additional Late Payment Fee of 25% will be added on monies outstanding more than 14 days from invoice date. Any invoice outstanding beyond this period may be referred to a debt collection service and/or legal proceedings commenced. This fee together with all other charges and legal fees incurred will be the responsibility of the customer and will be legally enforceable. Invoices referred to debt collection will be charged interest at 8% of the outstanding balance each month. Any cheque returned by our Bank as unpaid, any Credit Card payment not honoured and any Cash tendered that is found to be counterfeit will result in the original account being restored to the original sum with further charges added in respect of bank charges and administrative costs together with interest on the principal sum.

3.5 Please note that the fees may vary from the quotation provided with the treatment plan, depending on factors like the complexity of the procedure, the condition of your pet and other circumstances which are not apparent when providing the quotation.

3.6 There may be circumstances where, in the best interests of your pet, we provide the Services without first providing you with a treatment plan or estimate of fees. In these circumstances, you will still be required to pay for the Services provided, and we will ensure the treatment provided and the resultant fees charged are reasonable in the circumstances.

3.7 In the event that a scheduled consultation cannot proceed due to the pet escaping, hiding, pet being in an inaccessible location, or otherwise becoming unavailable for examination before or during the arrival of our veterinary team, the consultation fee remains payable by the pet owner. This fee covers the time and resources allocated to the scheduled visit. We advise pet owners to take necessary precautions to ensure their pet is securely contained and accessible for the consultation.

3.8 You shall pay all fees due in full without any set-off, or deduction. Where we require a payment in advance of providing the Services, we are under no obligation to provide the Services until the payment is received.

3.9 Insurance. We do not process insurance claims on your behalf and all fees for Services are payable in full by you, whether your pet is insured or not. We will provide you with the information and assistance necessary to make a claim from your insurance company within 24 hours of your request for assistance. If the insurance claim is complicated, we reserve the right to charge a reasonable fee for the administration involved with the preparation, submission and administration of your insurance claim.

4. Scope of Emergency Services and Follow-Up Care


4.1 Veteris specialises in providing immediate, emergency veterinary care to address your pet's acute medical conditions and urgent health concerns. Our Services are designed to stabilise and treat pets experiencing emergencies outside regular veterinary hours or in situations requiring immediate attention.

4.2 We understand the importance of continuity of care for your pet's health and well-being. Therefore, while we are fully equipped to handle emergencies, any follow-up care or ongoing treatment for conditions we diagnose or treat should ideally be coordinated with your regular veterinary surgeon. This ensures a comprehensive and consistent approach to your pet's healthcare, benefiting from your ongoing relationship and history with your primary veterinarian.

4.3 If your regular veterinary surgeon specifically requests that Veteris provide follow-up care or further treatment beyond the initial emergency intervention, we are happy to accommodate such requests. These instances will be treated as exceptions and clear communication between Veteris, your regular veterinary surgeon, and you as the pet owner will be established to ensure the best possible outcome for your pet.

4.4 To facilitate seamless follow-up care, we will provide a detailed report of the emergency treatment administered by Veteris to you and your regular veterinary surgeon. This report will aid in continuing care and inform any subsequent treatment plans devised by your regular veterinary surgeon. Your acceptance of these terms will be deemed approval for us to share your pet’s medical history, report and treatment plan with your regular veterinary surgeon.

4.5 As the pet owner, you are responsible for arranging any necessary follow-up appointments or treatments with your regular veterinary practice following emergency care received from Veteris. We encourage open communication and collaboration between all parties involved in your pet's care to achieve the best health outcomes.

5. Waiver of Liability for Specific Risks

5.1 Veteris is committed to providing the highest standard of emergency care upon the start of consultation. However, it is understood and agreed that certain conditions may be beyond the scope of immediate intervention, particularly in cases where a pet is critically ill or injured upon arrival. Therefore, Veteris shall not be held liable for the death of a pet that occurs upon arrival or before medical intervention can be administered.

5.2 Due to the inherent risks associated with administering anaesthesia or sedation to brachycephalic breeds - those with shortened skulls and snouts, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Persian cats, etc. - Veteris wishes to inform pet owners of the increased risks of complications or death during anaesthesia or sedation for these breeds. While our veterinary team takes all possible precautions and follows stringent protocols to mitigate these risks, pet owners must understand and acknowledge the inherent risks.

5.3 By agreeing to treat your pet, particularly using surgical procedures requiring anaesthesia, you, as the pet owner, acknowledge that you have been informed of the potential risks, including the risk of death. This acknowledgement extends to all pets, specifically emphasising the known complications associated with brachycephalic breeds.

5.4 Accordingly, by accepting our Services, you agree to waive any claims of liability against Veteris trading as Veteris, its veterinarians, technicians, and staff, for complications, injuries, or death that may arise as a direct result of inherent medical conditions or breed-specific susceptibilities, including but not limited to those encountered during anaesthesia.

5.5 Our team is dedicated to providing comprehensive information regarding the risks and benefits of proposed treatments, allowing you to make informed decisions regarding your pet's care. We encourage open dialogue and questions about your pet's treatment options and the associated risks.

5.6 Please provide us with complete and accurate details of your pet’s medical history and symptoms. If the information you supply to Veteris is incomplete or inaccurate, then Veteris may need to either impose extra fees to cover any additional work necessary as a result of incomplete information or, in extreme circumstances, refuse to treat your pet.


6. Service Limitations and Accessibility


6.1 Our commitment to providing emergency veterinary care is subject to certain practical limitations, including but not limited to:

Animal Behaviour: Reactive or uncooperative behaviour from the animal that makes it unsafe to proceed without sedation. If the owner declines sedation, it may be unsafe for our staff to deliver care, potentially preventing service provision.

Handling of Aggressive or Uncooperative Animals Clause: Veteris is committed to our patients and staff's safety and well-being. In cases where an animal displays aggressive or uncooperative behaviour that poses a risk to safety, the following steps will be taken:

Assessment: Our veterinary professionals will assess the situation to determine the safest approach to treatment.

Restraint and Sedation: We may employ specialised restraining tools and techniques as deemed necessary and appropriate for the situation. Sedation will be considered if it can safely facilitate treatment without compromising the animal's health.

Owner Involvement: We will engage with the pet owner to discuss the situation and the best course of action, ensuring they are informed of the risks and benefits associated with restraining and/or sedating their pet.

Alternative Solutions: If it is determined that safe treatment cannot be provided without undue risk to staff or the animal, we will discuss alternative solutions with the pet owner, which may include referral to a facility equipped for such cases.

Accessibility: Challenges in accessing the animal due to physical barriers or unsafe conditions at the location. Our ability to provide care is contingent upon safe and reasonable access to the animal in need.

Environmental and Operational Factors: Severe weather conditions, traffic disruptions, or unforeseen staff absences may impact our ability to deliver Services as planned. We are committed to promptly communicating any Services disruptions or delays and will work with you to reschedule or adjust Services as needed.


6.2 Expanded Waiver of Liability for Treatment of Aggressive Animals Clause: By utilizing the Veteris Services, pet owners acknowledge and agree to the following:

Risk Acknowledgment: The pet owner understands that reactive or uncooperative behaviour can significantly limit the ability of our staff to provide emergency care and that every reasonable effort will be made to ensure the safety of all involved.

Waiver of Claims: The pet owner hereby waives any claims against Veteris, its veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, and staff, for any inability to provide Services or any injuries that may occur as a direct result of the aggressive or uncooperative behaviour of their pet, despite reasonable restraint and sedation efforts.

Informed Decision: The pet owner agrees that decisions regarding managing their aggressive or uncooperative pet are made with their full understanding and consent, acknowledging the limitations and risks involved. An additional fee may be payable if a pet requires a muzzle or to be placed in a restraint bag or Veteris are required to use restraint to contain the pet; you will be informed of this cost at the time.

7. Complaints Procedure

Veteris is dedicated to delivering exceptional care and service to our patients and clients. We are committed to continuous improvement and staff development to ensure high standards in all aspects of companion animal care. Despite our efforts, we recognise that there may be times when your expectations are not met. If such a situation arises, please inform us so we can address the issue.

7.1 If you encounter a problem, we urge you to call us back to discuss it first with our team . We find that most concerns can be resolved promptly and effectively at this stage directly with the involved staff member.

7.2 Should the issue not be resolved to your satisfaction by the attending veterinary surgeon, we invite you to follow the steps outlined below to lodge a formal complaint:

A Guide to Making a Formal Complaint:

We encourage you to give us the opportunity to rectify any issues informally before lodging a formal complaint. However, if you wish to proceed formally, we request that you submit your complaint in writing as soon as possible; this will help us more accurately reconstruct the events in question.

Your written complaint should include:

Why: The specific nature of your complaint or problem.

Where: The location of the incident (mobile service or hospital).

When: The date and time of the incident.

Who: The staff members involved.

Desired Outcome: What you hope to achieve through the complaint process

7.3 Upon receiving your complaint, we will acknowledge it within seven (7) business days, informing you of the person handling your complaint and providing a timeline for a full response.

The lead veterinary surgeon or branch partner of the service involved will typically conduct the initial review. If your complaint has already been discussed with them, it will be escalated to a member of our management team.

We aim to provide a comprehensive response within fifteen (15) working days. If more time is needed, we will inform you of the delay and its reasons. Our investigation will seek to:

Understand the circumstances and identify any failures in Services.

Extend an apology where warranted.

Outline measures to prevent the recurrence of the issue.

7.4 Should you remain dissatisfied with our response, the issue can be escalated to a senior manager within our organisation for further review. This step is part of our commitment to hearing your feedback and making necessary improvements. If, after the escalation, you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you retain the right to contact the Veterinary Client Mediation Service (VCMS) at www.vetmediation.co.uk or the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons at www.rcvs.org.uk/concerns for external mediation and review without prejudice to your rights under our complaints procedure.

8. Data Protection and Privacy

8.1 Your privacy and the confidentiality of your data are of utmost importance to us. We adhere to strict data protection protocols, ensuring your information is used solely for providing and enhancing veterinary care services. The Veteris privacy policy is on our website at www.veteris.co.uk/privacy.

8.2 Please note that we will share your data with your veterinary practice as part of a detailed report of the emergency treatment administered by Veteris to your pet. This report and sharing of data will aid in continuing care and inform any subsequent treatment plans devised by your regular veterinary surgeon, as contemplated under clause 4.

9. Liability and Indemnity

9.1 Veteris operates within the professional standards of the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) and is committed to delivering high-quality emergency veterinary care. However, we acknowledge that unforeseen circumstances, including those outlined in our Service Limitations, may affect Services delivery. RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) standards and applicable laws guide our liability in such instances.

9.2 The pet owner acknowledges that while Veteris personnel exercise the highest degree of care during home visits or treatments, the responsibility for any damages to the property, including but not limited to water stains on wood flooring, scratches, or other physical damage, incurred as a direct or indirect result of the veterinary services provided, rests with the pet owner. To prevent such occurrences, it is imperative that the pet owner communicates any necessary precautions or specific concerns related to their property or the pet's environment to the Veteris team in advance of the consultation or treatment. This proactive communication will assist in safeguarding the property and ensure the safety and efficacy of the veterinary services provided.

10. Amendments to Terms and Conditions and Jurisdiction

10.1 Veteris reserves the right to amend, update, or modify these Terms and Conditions at any time without prior notice to reflect changes in operational practices, legal requirements, or to better serve our clients' needs.

10.2 The most current version of these Terms and Conditions will supersede all previous versions and will govern the services provided by Veteris. It is the responsibility of the pet owner to be aware of the latest Terms and Conditions.

10.3 Clients are encouraged to inquire about the most recent version of the Terms and Conditions either in practice or by contacting us directly. Our staff will be happy to provide the latest information or direct clients to where the most current version can be accessed.

10.4 By continuing to use our Services, clients acknowledge and agree to be bound by the most current version of the Terms and Conditions applicable at the time of service. Clients are expected to review and understand any changes that may have been made since their last interaction with our Services.

10.5 These Terms and Conditions are governed by the laws of England and Wales, and any disputes arising under or in connection with these Terms and Conditions shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English and Welsh courts.


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