The plight in the veterinary emergency service has long been known: More and more veterinary practices have stopped their emergency service because neither the staff could be paid nor cost-effective work for resident veterinarians.
The consequences of this are overcrowded veterinary clinics, which also work on the human and economic upper limit. As a result, more and more veterinary clinics are being closed nationwide and fewer and fewer veterinary practices are ready for an emergency service. A new emergency service fee schedule for veterinarians has been in effect since February 14.
Anyone using emergency veterinary services must pay an emergency service fee of 50 euros (net). This applies equally to hamsters and sheepdogs. To this end, veterinarians can now calculate their services at least twice the rate, up to four times. « This is a good start, but it doesn’t solve all of our problems, » said Andrea Buller, clinic manager for personnel and organization at the Oßweil animal clinic in Ludwigsburg. « The regulation suits us very well, because up to now we could not work to cover costs due to the human resources. »
According to Buller, a five-fold rate would only be really economically viable, but we’re happy that the new regulation is finally in effect. Most pet owners who already had to pay the emergency service fee are understanding. « In general, this is well received. » Anyone who has a regular appointment at the veterinary clinic in the evening from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. or in the early hours from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. does not have to pay an emergency service fee. In the veterinary practices, the emergency service fee applies to the daily night emergency service from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., on weekends from Friday 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. the following Monday and from 0 a.m. to midnight on a public holiday. If a veterinary practice offers a regular consultation until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. or at the weekend, this is not an emergency service. In principle, the emergency service fee should help veterinarians to be able to afford the emergency service in the future.
Not yet covering costs
So far, the costs in the emergency service within the permitted fee settlement framework could not be generated through a higher settlement and were therefore not cost-covering for the veterinary practices. For Dr. Karen Huber from the Neckarmühle veterinary practice in Ingersheim, the new regulation is an important step: « It was overdue for at least 20 years, » said the veterinarian. In their experience, the pet owners are quite willing to pay the emergency service fee. Huber also hopes that animal owners will rethink what is really an emergency and what is not. A problem that all veterinary practices, as well as in human medicine – have to an increasing extent. « An emergency service is basically there to convert life-threatening conditions into a non-life-threatening condition, » says Huber.
The emergency service is not the alternative for a complete diagnosis or treatment, that is what the regular office hours are for. The Federal Chamber of Veterinarians has made the flyer « Quick help for dogs, cats & Co. » available for download online to inform pet owners about the veterinary emergency service for small and domestic animals.
info In the district of Ludwigsburg, the small animal emergency service can be reached outside the office hours of the veterinary practices on telephone (07141) 29 01 01. The announcement tape announces the name and telephone number of the veterinarian who is on call.