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The purpose of the second SPVS COVID 19 survey was to compare the level of challenges in practices between two time periods ( late March and late April 2020) and focus on challenges to throughput, limits to capacity and future intentions The major concerns for all owners and employees were human health, economic sustainability and personal welfare. The survey highlighted increasing concerns with employees over job security and personal income compared to Survey 1 in March.
More detailed analysis of First Opinion Small Animal Practices showed that both physical and remote consults were typically taking 10-25 minutes longer. The changes within practices had reduced the overall capacity to see clients, with current staffing in place, to 40-60% of normal. The limits to increasing this capacity were due to time in the day to do the work, building constraints, insufficient labour to achieve efficiency and insufficient profits to recruit labour.
30% of respondents were dissatisfied with the social distancing arrangements for staff within the workplace whereas the 94% were happy with the arrangements for clients. 31% of respondents identified that reluctance of colleagues to undertake additional work may limit capacity and ability to do more work. Further work is required to establish how best to overcome these concerns. The future intentions for owners and employees was firmly focused on improving workflows and efficiencies
There was general support for increasing remote consulting and this was supported more by employees than owners (72% vs 51%). There was an acceptance that reducing labour to match the workload should be adopted – owners (60%) and employees (38%). Spreading the workload over longer hours was only supported by a quarter of owners and employees. Only 8% of owners saw would support extra borrowing whereas 24% of employees would support this concept. Charging more for services was a preferred option for 48% of owners but only 18% of employees would agree with this development.
Summary Human health remains a top priority. Further work is required to reassure all workers within small animal practice that, as volumes of work increase, social distancing risks can be managed and capacity can be increased. The most likely route adopted to reduce financial losses will be through increasing efficiency of operation, reducing costs and increasing fees. Increasing fees was less acceptable to employees. Employees have increasing concerns regarding job security and personal income.
SPVS and VMG remain committed to delivering Practical Help and Wellbeing support to practices as this is crucial during this period of great change. On June 3rd they are hosting a live webinar on “ Profitable Practice; Getting your Practice back on track” by Mark Harwood, Hazelwoods and June 23rd Focus on our Digital Future Online Training Event which will cover remote consulting in more detail