June 19th 2019

VCMS Annual Insights

The VCMS is busier than ever – we put this down to more owners and practices knowing what we do and how mediation can help when a complaint can’t be resolved within the practice.

What Type of Complaints are Referred to the VCMS?

Just as you would expect, the owner is unhappy with the care and service provided. The VCMS analyses the nature of complaints, i.e. is the owner complaining about the veterinary care provided, the service received or charges? 

Deeper analysis shows that almost all complaints refer to communication. Mediation discussions often reveal the difference between what has been said, and what has been understood.

The VCMS has a framework which we follow to ensure complaint mediations progress as swiftly and effectively as possible. Here is an overview of what the VCMS does at each stage, and the questions we will explore with owners and practices.

What Happens During the Mediation Process?

Mediation is about having a conversation. The mediator will not judge or take sides. They will explore the complaint with each party in turn. They may ask some challenging questions to help each party to understand why the complaint is continuing and the barriers that have prevented a resolution before. 

The VCMS does not impose a resolution and we do not make any findings. The mediator may pose some questions to help both parties reflect on the potential escalation if the complaint does not conclude in mediation, but the decision on whether to make or accept any proposal rests with the owner and practice involved.

We may bring an independent perspective, an independent ear, and listen for the clues in how to unlock the complaint and find a resolution.

How Do Practices Feel After the Mediation?

The VCMS asks for feedback after every mediation as it is important that the service is trusted and maintains impartiality. Feedback during 2018 was very encouraging!

  • On average 92% of respondees would use the VCMS again and would recommend to others;
  • 94% were satisfied with the process of the mediation;
  • 98% found the VCMS Team helpful and efficient;
  • 88% found the mediation productive;
  • 94% felt the VCMS understood their concerns;
  • 84% were satisfied with the outcome;
  • 81% felt the process was fair.

Common questions that the VCMS receives from practices include:

  • We have already responded to the complaint so what more can mediation achieve? 
  • The situation is difficult and our practice team are worried about discussing the complaint with them
  • We have already spent so much time trying to resolve this complaint!
  • We don’t feel like we have done anything wrong clinically, so why should we mediate?
  • This is all about fee avoidance, so should we delay debt recovery with mediation?

What Can Mediation Achieve?

VCMS - 86 Successfully Resolved

The VCMS works to resolve each individual issue in a unique and fair manner. The most common sorts of resolutions that we achieve are:

  • Goodwill gestures – on average £230, most range between £75-£100, with a few higher value/equine related complaints accounting for the average;
  • Payment of outstanding fees – so far in 2019, owners have agreed to pay over £22,000 in fees as part of the mediated resolution;
  • Acknowledging an owner’s complaint, the impact of events and if appropriate, an apology;
  • Clarity in communication to resolve any misunderstanding;
  • Charity donation;
  • Average refund of waiver;
  • Further explanations;
  • Protocol reviews;
  • Further training; 
  • Reassurance and helping owners’ accept and come to terms with what has happened.

For more information on the VCMS and our mediation services, contact our teams by calling 0345 040 5834 or email enquiries@vetmediation.co.uk. Alternatively, you can fill in our online complaint form

April 20th 2022

Vets Are Human Too

It is the human condition to be fallible sometimes. This includes pet owners, their veterinary surgeons and mediators. Fallibility takes many forms, but a key cause is communication and, more importantly, miscommunication.
April 14th 2022

The Importance of Helping a Client to Feel Heard and Valued

As part of our mediation service, the VCMS assist both the public and the veterinary profession in finding mutually beneficial outcomes to complaints.
March 1st 2022

Returning to Work and Your Dog

With restrictions easing across the UK and many returning to full time work, the RSPCA has warned about dogs being abandoned as owners struggle with returning to work and the cost of living rises.