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Report on fourth Covid impact survey published

5 October 2020

We have published a report on our fourth survey on the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on veterinary practice.

Front cover of RCVS Covid Impact Survey 4

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The survey was conducted between 1 and 7 September and was sent to the 3,077 UK veterinary practices for which we hold a unique email address.

Responses to the survey totalled 241, representing an 8% response rate and an increase on the 196 responses gathered in our third survey, held between 12 and 16 June. The first (3-7 April) and second (1-5 May) surveys in the series gathered 532 and 251 responses, respectively. 

Among the key findings in the latest report were:

  • For many veterinary practices, things appeared to be getting back to normal, with a notable increase in respondents saying their practices were operating a ‘near normal’ (58%) or ‘business as usual’ (27%) in-person service.
  • Far fewer practices had staff who were self-isolating, and only a small percentage reported that they had staff in quarantine after returning from abroad or after being contacted via the Test and Trace service.
  • There had also been a big improvement in the percentage of respondents who reported their practice’s turnover had stayed the same or increased compared to pre-Covid-19 levels (56%). In addition, for 80% of respondents, their practice’s cash flow position had stayed the same or even improved compared to pre-Covid-19.
  • There had been a big drop in the percentage of staff currently furloughed; just 10% of practices, for example, had veterinary surgeons currently furloughed, compared to 47% in June.
  • Notably fewer practices had staff working remotely: 26%, compared to 45% in June and 55% when the first survey was run. There had also been a big drop of respondents reporting that their practices were using remote consulting, from 80% to 50%, although this still meant that half of the practices were using it.

Lizzie Lockett, RCVS CEO, said:

"The results from this latest survey indicate that, for many practices, business continues to progress towards normality, with over half of respondents saying they were delivering a ‘near normal’ service.   

"It is heartening to see that cases of staff needing to self-isolate or enter quarantine had decreased, complemented by an equally improving situation regarding furloughed staff – only 10% of practices now had veterinary surgeons on furlough.  

"The specific economic impact of the current pandemic on veterinary practices remains stable at this time, with more than three-quarters of respondents noting no negative impact on their practice’s cash flow.

"However, the pandemic is far from over, with many areas of the UK entering into new periods of greater restriction even since our survey was carried out.

"In light of the ever-changing situation and new regulations set out by the four UK governments, we would encourage as many practices as possible to engage with our fifth survey – scheduled for November – to allow us to best gauge developments and identify where support and further guidance is needed.”

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