FAQs

Download our welcome pack

Northwest Veterinary Specialists is a multi-disciplinary referral hospital. We work together with your usual primary care vet, who will refer your pet to us if they think further investigations or treatment is needed. Referral appointments can only be made by the veterinary surgeon who  provides the primary care for your pet, we’re unable to accept direct requests from owners. As part of the referral process, your vet will send us clinical history and background information, all of which is essential to help us provide the best possible care for your pet and to prevent any duplication of tests or investigations. Most of this information will be sent directly to us before your appointment but there may be occasions where your vet could ask you to bring information with you for your appointment.

Below are some frequently asked questions and answers that may be helpful ahead of your pet’s appointment with us. If there’s anything else you’d like to ask or speak to us about, our contact details are here.

Northwest Veterinary Specialists is a multi-disciplinary specialist referral hospital.

We have RCVS and European Recognised Specialists in Internal Medicine, Neurology, Oncology, Orthopaedic and Soft Tissue Surgery. We have a multi-disciplinary collaborative approach, to find the best management for our patients.

Many of our nurses have done further advanced qualifications, including RCVS nursing diplomas and we have two of the few nurses in the UK to have American Veterinary Technician Specialist qualifications.

We have on-site CT and MRI machines, as well as a highly-qualified team of diagnostic imagers and ultrasonographers.


What is a Veterinary Specialist?

A veterinary Specialist is someone who has passed specialist examinations after completing a rigorous full time three year post-graduate training position (a residency) in a recognised specialist training centre.
Specialists are accredited by one (or more) of three groups of professional bodies: The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS Recognised Specialists); one of the European specialist colleges (European Recognised Specialists) or one of the American specialist colleges.

Specialists must have completed clinical research and had at least two scientific papers published in a peer-reviewed internationally-recognised veterinary journal. They must present their research at international conferences for scrutiny by specialist vets.

Even after passing the very challenging examinations, specialists have to re-accredit every 5 years, by means of further publications, demonstrating their contribution to training other specialists and continuing their work in specialist referral centres.

Fewer than 0.4% of vets in the UK are RCVS Recognised Specialists. There are fewer than 100 European Recognised Specialists in Internal Medicine in the UK.

Opening hours

Our Client Care Team is available between 8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Our vets and nurses are working 24 hours a day so someone is always here to look after our inpatients.


How do I arrange for my pet to see a Specialist?

You should ask you primary vet to complete a referral form - available on our website.

We can only see pets that have been referred by a primary vet.

Paperwork needed for your appointment

Within the Welcome Pack you have received there are a number of items that need to be completed and brought with you;

  • Your Insurance policy certificate
  • Signed insurance claim form
  • Completed Insurance Claims & Payment Information
  • Data Preferences for Marketing (on the back of the above document)
  • Completed Cat or dog questionnaire

These are all very important to complete for a number of reasons:

  • This will save time at reception which should avoid delays to your appointment
    This reduces the stress to your pet when you arrive as you won’t have to stand at the Client Care Team desk completing paperwork.
  • If everything is completed in full the team will take the forms from you, ask some key questions and then you can take a seat. If you wish to take your pet and wait in your car or go for a walk then please be back for your appointment time.

Can my pet have any belongings with them?

If your pet is staying with us please do not leave collars, leads etc. Please note, to comply with our hygiene policy, we cannot accept toys, bedding or other personal items into the hospital.


What happens if my pet needs any diagnostic imaging? (MRI, CT, Ultrasound)

When you have your appointment with the Specialist they will make the decision whether or not your pet needs a diagnostic procedure. This may not be on the same day as your appointment, but this will be discussed in full with you at the appointment by the Specialist.

Updates about your pet

If your pet is admitted to the hospital the follow update protocols are in place:

Weekdays: The Specialist will telephone you each evening that your pet is hospitalised and will update you each morning either by text message or a telephone call (depending upon whether there are changes that need to be discussed). We aim to have morning updates completed by 10am, but if the clinicians’ ward rounds take longer than usual there may be some delay. Evening updates will usually be after 4:30pm but may be later in the evening if your clinician is still busy with procedures or ward rounds.

Weekends: The clinician on duty will telephone you once a day, after morning ward rounds. At weekends timing of the telephone calls can be unpredictable due to emergency appointments. We aim to update you by midday at weekends.

Please make sure that the Client Care Team has the best number to contact you on.

Emergencies may impact the timing of the updates, as these are circumstances beyond our control. If you have not received a weekday morning update by 11am or a weekday evening update by 7pm, please contact us.

If your pet deteriorates significantly and requires intervention from the on call clinician overnight, you will be contacted at that time.


Discharge appointments

When your pet is ready to go home one of the team will call you to arrange this appointment. Discharge appointments are usually scheduled for the afternoon or evening, to allow the team time to prepare your pet, their medication and discharge instructions for going home.

We will try to give you plenty of notice. If your Specialist suggested that it’s likely that your pet will be discharged the following day, please ask to arrange a provisional discharge appointment time.

At the time of the discharge appointment a clinical team member will read through some written discharge instructions with you, to ensure that you understand the contents. The medication doses will also be made clear, along with any other requirements for your pet’s ongoing care.

Please note, that your pet may be discharged before we receive all pending laboratory or imaging reports, in which case your Specialist will contact you when these are available.

If your pet goes home out of hours or at the weekend then we cannot always guarantee that all items will have been invoiced and so there may be additional items invoiced after discharge, and we may contact you for payment of these. Discharge appointments can be made up to 6:45pm Monday - Friday and up to 4:30pm on a Saturday and Sunday.

A letter detailing investigation findings will be sent in a report to your primary vet within the following 7 days, but please note that if we’re awaiting further results there could be a delay. If you would like to receive a copy of the report, please let a member of the Client Care Team know.


Visiting your pet

We understand that your pet being away from home and the family environment can be hard for both you and your pet. Whilst your pet is the hospital they will have human company 24 hours a day, be taken for regular walks, played with and given lots of attention. Our intention is to ensure your pet is treated and discharged back home to you as soon as possible.

If your pet stays with us for longer than 5 days we can arrange for you to come and visit them in the hospital. These visits normally take place at the weekends, but this can be discussed with you during the update calls with your Specialist.

Consultation charges

Consultant Fees outlined below:

Routine consultation £210.00

Revisit or follow up appointment £105.00

Emergency consultation out of hours £390.00

Emergency consultation revisit or follow up appointment £195.00

Any follow up appointment consultation fees are discussed during first consultation.


Checking your insurance policy before you arrive

We cannot guarantee that your insurance company will cover all the treatment costs for your pet and therefore we encourage you to contact your insurance provider prior to coming to your appointment to get an understanding of your cover and policy exclusions.

We’re happy to help with any pre-authorisation needed and there is no additional fee for this. Clients should contact us well in advance if a pre-authorisation is required as some insurance companies can take up to 7 days to confirm back to us.

Please note, you are responsible for any shortfall of payment not covered by the insurance company.


What is a direct claim?

A direct claim is when Northwest Veterinary Specialists claim the money back from your insurance company directly.

Depending on the insurance company we may be able to arrange a direct claim for you if the treatment cost is over £500. This is when we send off the claim form on your behalf to your insurance company and they settle the invoice directly with us. If there is an outstanding amount left on the account after the insurance company have paid, it is your responsibility to make a final payment directly to us.

There is a one off administration fee of £40 for this service, which is not usually covered by insurance companies.


Pet insured - Doing a Direct Claim

If we’re doing a direct claim with your insurance company you will be asked to leave a signed claim form with us, pay your insurance company excess, the administration fee and any shortfall noted on your policy. We will then send off the completed claim form to your insurance company after your treatment for them to make payment.


Pet insured - Doing a Non Direct Claim

If your pet is insured with a company that we don’t offer direct claims we will ask you to leave a claim form with us and we will then send off the completed claim form to your insurance company for them to make payment directly to you.


What happens if you’re not insured?

If your pet is not insured we will require payment for the consultation fee after your appointment (this fee is noted in your appointment letter).

If your pet is admitted to the hospital we will require 75% of the lower estimated figure given to you by the Specialist before your pet is admitted, and then the remaining balance at the time of discharge.


Methods of payment

Payment is expected in full when your pet goes home. We accept cash, debit and most major credit cards. Unfortunately we don’t accept American Express or personal cheques.


Physiotherapy appointments

Your pet may require a course of physiotherapy treatment and payment will need to be made after each appointment.


What happens if my insurance company doesn’t pay for treatment?

In the event that your insurance company fails to settle your claim, either in full or only part pay, then you are liable for the outstanding cost of your pet’s treatment.


RSA Insurance Group information

Insurance companies involved in the Referral Vet Network (RSA) such as Tesco, Argos, Homebase and More Than, direct their clients to use specific referral practices that are signed up to their scheme.

Northwest Veterinary Specialists doesn’t participate in this scheme as we believe that the choice of the referral practice should be in the hands of the referring vet and pet owners.

We also believe that clients shouldn’t be financially penalised for this choice so if a direct claim is processed with Northwest Veterinary Specialists and the insurer takes the £200 referral fee from your settlement it is our policy to refund this to you.

Pharmacy Enquiry and Request Form

Northwest Veterinary Specialist have now launched a direct Pharmacy Service for our clients for any repeat prescriptions, medication queries or advice please email [email protected].

Please complete the above pharmacy request form or email direct providing details of your requirements.

Prescriptions and medications can be collected from Reception during the opening hours of 7.00am - 7.00pm Monday to Friday and 9.00am - 5.00pm Saturday and Sunday. Postage is by Royal Mail Special Delivery, which will require a signature upon delivery and will cost £9.00. There will be an additional charge for guaranteed Saturday Delivery. Our Client Care Team will contact you to arrange payment.

Please note that we are unable to post cytotoxic medication in either liquid or tablet form.

Medicine, supplements and dietary requests are available for collection after 2 working days of ordering.