The new policy is intended to protect against intrusive, offensive, violent or aggressive behaviour from clients.
Recent data from the British Veterinary Association found that six in 10 vets reported they had felt intimidated by a client’s language or behaviour over the past year[i].
The new CVS Zero Tolerance policy has defined unacceptable behaviour as:
- Making malicious allegations about colleagues or other clients
- Making racial, sexual or discriminatory remarks, implications, or gestures
- Using violent, threatening, or abusive language or behaviours towards colleagues, clients or animals in its care
- Theft and other criminal activity, including fraud
- Non-compliance with a practice’s health and safety requirements
CVS’ policy will cover contact made in person, over the telephone, by email, through the website or on social media. It will apply to both a client and any person accompanying or connected with them that engages in such behaviour.
The policy sets out a multi-stage process for its practices to deal with unacceptable client behaviour. It will empower colleagues to: ask clients to leave a premises immediately; decline to supply its veterinary services; terminate all veterinary services for a clients’ animal; report clients’ conduct to the police; and, pursue legal action against a client.
Richard Fairman, Chief Executive Officer at CVS Group, said: “A good relationship between a client and vet must be founded on mutual trust and confidence. However, in recent years there has been a rise in unacceptable behaviour by some clients. To protect our colleagues’ safety and wellbeing, we are taking a zero-tolerance approach to such behaviour. We hope our new policy, framework and support tools will support our practice teams in not having to tolerate such behaviour.”
CVS Group operates across small animal, farm animal, equine, laboratories and crematoria, with over 500 veterinary practices, referral centres and sites in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands. In the last five years the company has invested nearly £80 million in its sites, facilities and equipment, in addition to industry leading training and support, to give the best possible care to animals.