I am a little saddened by the recurring assertion on social media that Springwell is an expensive local provider of Veterinary services.  Clearly it must appear so to be so often repeated but there is no qualification of this statement or suggestion as to why this may be.  The following are my insider thoughts on what may be going on, which I think every potential client should consider before choosing what level of Veterinary care they would like for their pet.

All businesses may be judged on whether they deliver on price, service or quality.  It is very difficult to deliver all three things at once and for me the absolute priority is that your pet comes first and is managed with the same level of care that I would want for my dog.  This immediately dictates that we have suitably qualified, motivated staff, who enjoy their job, have enough time to take an active interest and who meet or exceed their commitment to continuing professional development.  I have postgraduate qualifications in Small Animal Surgery, Endosurgery and Endoscopy.  It also requires that we invest in very high level, new, veterinary specific diagnostic equipment.  Our facilites, listed on the website, unfortunately, will sound the same to a member of the public, as anyone else's.  However the advantages bestowed by having a referral quality-ultrasound scanner, Pro-cyte haematology, a full endoscopic and endosurgical suite, titanium stapling etc really do make an immense difference to what we are able to do.  However these things do increase our cost base.

Paradoxically what we spend on service and equipment enables us to work very efficiently and in doing so reduce costs for clients.  We aspire to make same day diagnoses, staging and treatment which significantly reduces our clients exposure to time consuming follow up appointments.  At our last surgical audit we found that one quarter of our surgical procedures were performed using minimally invasive techniques.  This minimises trauma, reduces postoperative complications and in many cases is cost effective.  It also significantly reduces our need to use antibiotics and painkillers.  A common example of this saving would be gastrointestinal foreign body removal, where a cost comparison between early endoscopic removal and the alternative of major intestinal surgery is very, very favourable.  Similarly with cryptorchid castration, a precise act of targeted endosurgery can save a painful, expensive and time-consuming procedure.  There are many such examples.  The point being that a seemingly expensive endoscopic procedure may actually cost very much less than the traditional techniques for treating such conditions.

Offering a complete service also means that we rarely need to refer cases to specialists.  Of course we don't have a three quarter of a million pound MRI scanner and so our spinal and brain cases are exceptions, but every referral saved can equal many weeks of anguish and savings of many thousands of pounds.

More cynically, with the accusation of expense, I think that what clients are witnessing is the introduction of Veterinary Business Management into pricing.  For a while now, the comparable fees, those prices that you may telephone to enquire about, have been driven down by competition to demonstrate how cheaply a veterinary surgery operates.  Unbelievable deals on vaccines, lower than cost, and health care plans designed by protocol rather than your individual pets needs, reflect an aggressive tactic to bind in clients and increase footfall.  Of course the overheads still need to be met and profit made, which will often appear in the unique costs that your pet's condition will raise, but which a client may feel is normal because they have no reference for comparison.  We have witnessed the £600 cat abscess and the £1300 thyroidectomy generated in local corporate outfits, when we may expect to charge £100 and £300 respectively, like for like.  Similarly we are aware of the £1500 laparoscopic spays offered in one referral centre.  We try and keep our costs for the same down to around £400, because we don't want price to be a barrier to doing the best thing for your pet.

To summarise, I can't really say whether we're expensive or actually represent really great value.  It's like comparing apples and pears.  But I do know that at our surgery, you get what you pay for: no gimmicks, and if something appears to be too cheap-it probably is.



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