VetPartners announced it is supporting the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic by donating ventilators and personal protective equipment to frontline staff.
Practices that are part of the York-based veterinary group are now providing vital equipment, including disposable masks, aprons and gloves. Some practices have also been able to donate ventilators to hospitals.
Due to social distancing guidelines outlined by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), VetPartners has postponed routine work, which has enabled practices to donate the surplus PPE.
Its practices are only treating emergency and urgent cases only at the practice, while routine care is still offered via telephone and video.
The group said that donating the equipment “will not risk animal welfare or risk the health of vets and veterinary nurses”, as practices have started making material masks and gowns to replace disposable equipment.
A sewing pattern has been shared among some practices to enable team members to start making the material gowns and masks, which can be washed at high temperatures and act as an alternative to the plastic protective clothing being donated to hospitals and hospices.
Dr Rachel Dean, VetPartners director of clinical research and excellence in practice, said: “We want to help the awesome NHS staff and carers who are caring for human patients if they request extra items of personal protection equipment.
“Some of our practices have already donated ventilators, masks, aprons and gloves and we are more than willing to help. We have disposable masks and aprons we can donate to if we receive requests to help them as they may need additional equipment in coming weeks.”
She added: “When our practice managers and clinical directors heard of this, they were only too happy to help and we can look at some of the alternatives of the old-style material garments that can be washed and reused without causing risking the health of pets.
“Some of our practices are even encouraging at-risk groups who are self-isolating at home to help create the long sleeve clothing gowns and face masks for veterinary teams.”
VetPartners currently employs 5,495 team members across nearly 500 sites, and says it has contingency plans in place to “help practices to continue to provide a service while coronavirus continues to spread across the UK”.