July 1st 2024

Veterinary Client Mediation Service Releases 2022-23 Insight Report Highlighting Increased Resolution Success

The 2023 annual Insight Report from Veterinary Client Mediation Service (VCMS) shares that the RCVS funded complaint resolution service mediated more complaints than in previous years between November 2022 to October 2023.

Despite the pressures caused by the cost of living crisis and the initial phase of the Competition and Markets Authority Call for Information, the VCMS saw resolution rates increase to 84%.

The nature of complaints remained consistent on previous years, and the report highlights that whilst diagnostic pathways and the consent process remain the most common scenarios leading to complaints, communication, expectations and compassion remain at the heart of most of the complaints escalating to the VCMS.

The VCMS, which is dedicated to supporting the relationship between veterinary practices and animal owners, and received 3,629 enquiries, and supported nearly 60% of those contacting the service to work with the practice to resolve the complaint locally. The service went on to mediate nearly 800 complaints between 1 November 2022 and 31 October 2023 – the highest number of mediations conducted in a year since the VCMS was established in 2017.

Over three-quarters of veterinary practices invited to mediate accepted an invitation from the VCMS, and benefitted from the mediation process.

The most common complaints received by VCMS related to the standard of care (57%) and customer service (20%), while enquiries about clinical fees (13%) increased year-on-year. Complaints regarding surgery complications saw a significant increase of 167%, while complaints where the client felt the appropriate diagnostics were not conducted at the right time rose by 27%.

The resolution rate climbed to 84%, up from 76% in the 2021-22 period, ensuring that more issues were resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. While resolutions continued to be both financial and non-financial, there was a marked increase in agreements involving a financial element (from 52% to 57%). These resolutions include 15% of resolutions involving a goodwill gesture (average of £315.97) and the remainder split between partial discounts or refunds and payment of outstanding fees, reflecting a growing focus on value for money among clients. The VCMS facilitated nearly £100,000 in veterinary fee resolutions.

Jennie Jones, Head of the VCMS, commented, “The consistent engagement from veterinary practices and clients underscores the importance of effective communication and resolution in maintaining trust. The increased resolution rates and positive feedback highlight our ongoing commitment to improving veterinary-client relationships.”

The annual report also shows a high level of satisfaction, with 93% of veterinary practices and 97% of clients indicating they would use the VCMS again. This demonstrates strong confidence in the mediation process from both sides.

The VCMS continues to advocate for collaborative decision-making and transparent communication, ensuring both veterinary professionals and animal owners are informed and engaged in the care process. The detailed insights and data presented in this report aim to support further upstreaming of complaint insight to facilitate ongoing quality improvement within the veterinary profession.

For further information, please contact Sue Clark on sclark@nockolds.co.uk or on 07919 158962.

This report reaffirms the VCMS’s role in enhancing veterinary-client relationships through effective mediation and underscores its success in resolving disputes amicably and efficiently. The full Insight Report for 2022-23 is available on the VCMS website.

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