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Sheerness Vets first to receive Patient Safety Accreditation Award


Wellpets Vets in Sheerness are delighted to become the first practice across the UK to receive the Independent Vetcare’s Patient Safety Award.

The award, an initiative spearheaded by the Clinical Board at Independent Vetcare, aims to raise the standards of Patient Safety within practice. To achieve the award, the team in the practice have to demonstrate that they have a coherent Clinical Governance policy, follow strict hygiene protocols, use checklists, perform regular clinical audits and engage in regular reviews of clinical case outcomes.

“Congratulations to the team at Sheerness on their hard work to improve Patient Safety” comments David Tweedle MRCVS, a member of the Clinical Board and Lead on the Patient Safety Working Party.

“I am keen to see many more practices join Sheerness and proudly display their award in the near future. The Patient Safety Award has been based on Standing Operating Procedures from Evidensia in Sweden, to help raise the bar in the UK.”

Below is an interview with RVN Zoe Jeffery who led the project at Sheerness Vets

How did you find out about the award?

I found out about the award last summer/early autumn. I was interested in this and then received further information from my clinical director.

What motivated you to sign up for the award?

I am very passionate about improving standards within the veterinary profession and aim to follow trends which are set within the human medical sector. I feel we have come far within the profession, however, there is so much scope for improvement and general standardisation. I felt we already had high standards in the practice although these were our own opinions and we were intrigued to produce audits on routine procedures to analyse the actual patient safety standards and identify weaknesses whilst learning and developing new protocols.

I had recently completed the RCVS knowledge CPD/online webinars that I saw advertised and wanted to put my skills into action!

Which parts of the award were you already doing as a practice?

  • Clinical governance policy
  • Hygiene SOP and self-assessment
  • Clinical audit
  • POA audit
  • Discussion at meetings
  • Checklists

Which parts were new?

Most aspects were to some extent touched on but these were not formally carried out. We had passed PSS so some areas such as staff hygiene assessments, and clinical governance had been discussed recently. Although these areas had been approached at the time of PSS they had since been forgotten about/put to the back of the workload and we had fallen into old ways! It enabled us to put new procedures and protocols in place.

The clinical audits were new to us and had never been formally produced in the clinic. The checklists were also available and laminated on the surgery wall, however, often glanced over rather than the time being taken to fill them out as a team. 

Which people within the practice were involved with the process?

I led the work with our vet and we made sure we engaged with our team of animal care assistants.

How did you motivate people to become engaged with PS – was there any resistance?

Due to being such a small team it was easy to make sure everyone was following.

In your opinion what have been the benefits to patients / clients / team and have you been able to quantify these?

A big emphasis is made on keeping patients warm after sedations/anaesthetics. The monitoring of body temperature starts at the pre-medication stage rather than towards the end of the anaesthetic when the patient is already cold. We are now preventing heat loss from the moment they enter the clinic and this has been very effective as fewer animals suffer hypothermia during anaesthesia. This promotes a safer anaesthetic and a quicker recovery.

We also discuss cases more as a multi-disciplinary team which has helped to develop better nursing plans for inpatients as all aspects of their care is thought of.

We have been able to avoid significant events and handling of difficult animals has been much better organised. After an initial case a meeting is carried out with the staff involved and a plan is put into place in future similar events

How has working on this project benefitted you personally?

The award was very beneficial to me as a nurse but also as I am currently carrying out my Master’s degree in Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I am interested in tropical disease epidemiology and working on this award allowed me to practice and develop skills required, such as collecting and analysing data. I feel more confident in developing and promoting new policies and protocols within practice based on my research from clinical auditing and clinical governance.

Have there been any difficulties or problems to overcome?

It was often difficult to record the clinical governance meetings as they were mostly informal discussions without any planning. We now allocate a set time each Monday morning where myself and the vet discuss and record the previous week and anything which we want to talk about prior to the start of the week. This has been very beneficial.

Would you recommend other practices to focus on PS?

I feel all practices should work on this award.

It allows you to identify your weaknesses as a practice and develop new protocols and ideas as a team. All staff members from clinical to non-clinical, students to management can get involved and develop an understanding of patient safety. I found the award highlighted areas in the clinic which were often neglected or not thought of as significant. By working through and discussing issues we were able to reinforce better standards and team members were more likely to change and improve as they had a better understanding and awareness.

Our anaesthetic safety protocol has improved greatly.

What are your next steps in improving outcomes for your patients / clients / team?

I aim to continue to work on the award and continue to maintain the standards which we have set. I would also like to work on developing the inpatient care award within the clinic for the PSS.


For more information contact Trudi Purdy on tpurdy@independentvetcare.co.uk