Is There Any Justification For Such Huge Vets Bills?

Maisie and Tilly

Maisie and Tilly

By Ruth aka Kattaddorra

This story was reported in our local newspaper ‘The Northern Echo’ today:

Darlington Pensioner’s Vet Bill

A frail pensioner has been left with a huge bill after an out-of-hours vet treated her cat when its tail jammed in a stair lift. Firefighters who dismantled the stair lift at Maisie Wilkinson’s Darlington home to free feline Tilly are now holding a whip-round to help out.

The 81-year-old, who lives alone and receives daily support from carers, was charged £753.56 by the Vets Now service. Her son Tony is angered at the size of the charge – which involved Tilly’s late night collection by a vet and overnight care. Next day she was transferred to the PDSA veterinary charity in Middlesbrough who amputated Tilly’s injured tail free of charge.

“I don’t know how they can justify the cost,” said Mr Wilkinson, 61. “All he did was give Tilly an injection and kept her overnight; the PDSA did the operation.”My mother is worried sick about it all and wants to pay it but she hasn’t got the money.”

His mother, recovering from near-fatal E-Coli contracted in July, said the whole ordeal – which happened shortly after 10pm on a Thursday night – left her shaken and upset. “It was terrible,” she said. “I was coming downstairs and Tilly ran upstairs when her tail got caught. “She was screaming and screaming; I didn’t know what to do.” Her son called the fire brigade who dismantled the stair lift to free Tilly, whose tail had almost been severed by the cogs. One of her carers spotted the fire engine outside and called in to comfort the pensioner during the hour-and-a-half ordeal.

Her son said he was warned that the Vets Now call-out charge would be around £300 but he was flabbergasted at the final cost. “At the time I didn’t feel like we had much choice; my mother was so upset and the cat was in so much pain, what else could we do?”

Richard White, district vet for Middlesbrough Vets Now who attended Tilly, said payment options and fees were “extensively” discussed with Mrs Wilkinson as Tilly needed hospitalisation and further treatment including IV fluids, pain relief and treatment for shock.

“Vets Now is a dedicated out of hours emergency and critical care provider and our treatment fees are representative of the high quality, out of hours treatment we provide,” he added. “Any out of hours emergency service will always come at a premium because of the expensive running costs”

Our clinics are fully staffed and fully equipped every night and weekend so that we can be there for pet owners in an emergency, when other vets are closed. In return for the fees we charge, pets receive a high standard of round-the-clock care; our vets and nurses are awake and on duty all night, and this is reflected in our consistently high levels of client satisfaction.”

Mrs Wilkinson said she will try to pay a small amount off the bill each month, adding that she had been touched by the kindness of the Darlington firemen together with her carers who are also holding a collection for her.

How can that emergency vets justify £300 for a call out? £453.56 for treatment?

I think this is outrageous!

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Is There Any Justification For Such Huge Vets Bills? — 18 Comments

  1. Vets bills put cat owners off. They prevent cat owners from properly caring for their cat.

    However, in the UK vets are private businesses unlike the National Health Service. Brits have got used to “free” medical care for people and are reluctant to pay for a vet.

    Also doctors’ pay has risen dramatically over the past 10 years because the previous government increased pay for NHS doctors.

    The private doctors already earned a fortune. So the vets got left be behind and then got greedy. They wanted to catch up.

    There are some great vets who charge fair rates. My vet is an example but some have can charge heavy rates and find ways to crank up the charges (inventing treatments).

    It takes as long to qualify as a vet as it does a doctor so why should they be paid a fraction of a doctor’s pay?

    The reason is that animals are less important than humans.

    • Thanks Elisa, this old lady lives around ten miles from us so we don’t actually know her and the only way to contact her would be via the Northern Echo.
      If I can find out any more I’ll get back to you.
      It may be that now that it’s made public those vets will reduce their bill.

      • This is disgusting – it’s the same here in Switzerland though – if you keep your cat overnight it costs the equivalent to 700 dollars – and that’s without any treatment. Just horrible. That’s why you need to get insurance I think. Its the only way to be secure this won’t happen. Having said that I still haven’t gotten insurance yet but I should.

        • The vet is charging too much because he charged an exorbitant fee for coming out AND an extremely high fee for treatment. One or the other, but to do both is wrong. My friend Bob charges a fairly high rate per hour for labor on cars his shop fixes, but he does not mark up parts. He said that it should be one or the other, and he thinks the garages that charge both a very high fee for labor and mark the parts up are wrong to do that.

          We could get my sister’s furnace fixed in the middle of a winter night for less than this vet charged this lady. Usually Jen’s furnace just needs some little sensor replaced or cleaned, so the bill is quite low. Honestly, if we called in the emergency repair team and paid the extra fees for a middle of the night, emergency service call, it would not be $700. Charging a fee that is so high just because people are in a bind is a form of stealing.

  2. Today’s news….the charity NASSL (National Animal Sanctuaries Support League) are paying half the vets bill and a kind gentleman is paying the other half…..full story to follow….

    • Wow…the Brits are generous. It is a crazy idea but we should have an animal National Health Service (ANHS). If there is one for people why not for companion animals?

      • Yes most Brits are a generous nation and we know how valuable their pets companionship is to an old person.
        This is a lovely story in these days of many old people being neglected through lack of NHS and social care, just look at the relief on Mrs Wilkinson’s face…..

        • Today’s story:
          KIND-HEARTED Northern Echo readers have stepped in to pay the £750 vet bill charged to pensioner Maisie Wilkinson whose cat’s tail got stuck in a stairlift.
          Mrs Wilkinson’s ordeal featured on the front of The Northern Echo yesterday (Monday, September 2) and caught the attention of Pauline Wilson of the National Animal Sanctuaries Support League (NASSL) who contacted the paper to say the charity would foot the bill.
          Another reader, Tony McMahon – the father of the former Middlesbrough player of the same name – also offered to help and arrangements are now being made between the two to pay Mrs Wilkinson’s £753.56 bill in full.
          The delighted 81-year-old, of Darlington, said: “It is so nice of them; I would like to say a big thank you.
          “It’s so unexpected and lovely that people care.”
          Mrs Wilkinson was hit with the bill after an emergency vet from the Vets Now service was called to collect her cat Tilly who had caught its tail in a stairlift.
          Tilly stayed in the surgery overnight before being transferred to the PDSA in Middlesbrough who amputated her tail.
          Mrs Wilkinson’s son, Tony, said the offers to pay the bill had left him “gobsmacked
          “I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
          “I’ve been trying to get overtime at work to help my mum because she’s been so worried about paying it, so this is really good news and I’m so grateful.”
          He added: “One thing’s for sure the cat won’t trap its tail in the stairlift again!”
          Pauline Wilson of the Bristol-based (NASSL), which has an office in Newton Aycliffe and a sanctuary in Darlington, said helping animals and those who care for them is the charity’s objective.
          She said: “This is an elderly lady who obviously loves her cat very much and they have both been through a very traumatic experience.
          “Then to be hit with a hefty bill, with her poor health and at her time of life, is a sad thing.”
          Mrs Wilson added: “In some respects Mr McMahon’s gesture far outweighs ours because we are an animal welfare charity but he is just an ordinary member of the public who wants to help.
          “That sort of thing warms the cockles of your heart, I think it is lovely.”
          Mrs Wilkinson told The Northern Echo that Tilly is recovering well from her ordeal and is adjusting to life without a tail

  3. Michael, with £753.56 (Rs 75,300 @ Rs100=1 Pound) i could do a part of my proposed “Vietnam/Cambodia” solo-budget tour in December 2013!I can’t believe that these were the charges for a simple injury and pet care treatment, only difference, this was a personal visit by a vet.In U.k the “Health Treatment” for humans is free but seems owning a pet by a British Citizen means a person has to be in the millionaire income bracket in “British Pounds” and not a “Indian Rupee” millionaire!Now i understand the reasons for Britishers and Americans abandoning their pets in times of an “ECONOMIC CRISIS”.

    • It is a expensive. I am used to it. Charlie’s teeth cleaning and intestinal inspection (all under anesthetic) cost over £700. And my vet is not greedy or particularly expensive. Rudolph, what would a vet in India charge to clean a cat’s teeth under general anesthetic?

      • Michael, honestly i never have taken my cats to the vet for any major illness barring normal “Inoculations” which i have stopped now. My vet’s bills for cats have never exceeded more than 5 Pounds(Rs 500 at Max).

        Don’t forget that Vets are still expensive in India compared to the salary and income of the average Indian.The sum of 700 Pounds(Rs 70,000) you quote for your cat “Charlie” could be the cost of a new 125cc motorcycle in Mumbai! Now this is what you call the difference in income between “First World” and the Developing World.Average hospitalisation charges for boarding/lodging of a cat could be approx Rs 300/day(3 Pounds approx) with medication charges extra.According to my assumption the cost of leaving your cat in the “S.P.C.A” hospital in Mumbai for medical care should not amount to more than Rs 500/Day(5 Pounds) which is a real luxury not affordable by a common pet owner.

        Many people abandon their dogs at the animal hospital if the charges are exorbitant and hence the hospital charges a certain “DEPOSIT MONEY” when admitting a dog or cat as a patient.Michael,ultimately, pet ownership in any Country is a luxury,varying in charges and maintenance according to the Percapita income of that particular Country..

        • Good point. In the UK, we are used to big numbers, expensive things. I agree that people should think about the expense of keeping a cat before adopting. It seems that too many people don’t factor in the expense of keeping a cat over the cat’s lifetime.

          Thanks for responding to my comment.

          Perhaps I should live in India where my money would go far, far further and make a difference, in the cat world, perhaps.

  4. This little old lady was charged the 750 pounds for a call out and overnight stay at a company called Now Vets..The actual surgery was carried out next day by a charity for free.
    The reason they charge so much is that they assume everyone has pet insurance but here in England insurance can be very expensive and an 81 year old whos only company is her cat will of course agree to any cost rather than have her animal put down by the emergency vet during his visit. If that were to happen there would still have been the call out charge and according to Now Vets website a charge for “consultation”.
    The problem is that after hours the regular vet doesn’t do call outs and instead refers the client to these leeches who make a fortune from peoples misery and despair over their beloved animals emergencies. I don’t know it for a fact but it wouldn’t surprise me if the regular vet got a referral fee from these predatory after hours emergency vets.
    I am pleased that this episode has brought world wide attention to the issue of extorniate vetenerary charges her in the UK when emergencies after hours occur

  5. The latest news on Tilly…
    Mrs Wilkinson says that she is fine and doesn’t seem to be missing her tail at all and she’s still running up and down the stairs too so it hasn’t affected her emotionally at all.
    She had written out a cheque for £100 as a first instalment to pay the vet’s bill but tore it up when it was so kindly paid for her, however she didn’t keep the money, she wrote out another cheque for £100 to give to the PDSA instead. I think that’s lovely, what goes around comes around, she was helped and then she helped someone else.
    Wouldn’t it be a much better world if everyone did the same as the lovely people in this story with a happy ending!

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