Information sharing at heart of Arundel practice - Veterinary Practice
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Information sharing at heart of Arundel practice

visits one of the largest equine- only practices in the UK to see how it operates and the scope of its activities across a wide area of both East and West Sussex

IT was 8am on a typical autumn
morning when I drove into The
Equine Veterinary Hospital nestled
in the picturesque West Sussex
Downs on the fringe of Arundel. I
was here to see just what is
involved in running one of the
largest UK equine-only practices.

With a team of three directors,
Rob van Pelt, Ed Lyall and Matt
Waterhouse, there are 12 other
veterinary surgeons.

practice covers most
of West and
East Sussex;
the area
several large
racing stables;
four racecourses (Brighton, Plumpton,
Fontwell and Goodwood); The All
England Show Jumping Course at
Hickstead; several large thoroughbred
studs; and endless smaller trainers,
competition and livery yards, etc.

Busy by 8 o’clock

Even at 8 o’clock in the morning, the
practice is already bustling with
horseboxes driving in and out of the
car park, yard staff busy mucking out,
nurses admitting and discharging
patients and vets already starting to
deal with the day’s casualties.

Founded in the early 1950s the
practice has developed substantially
over the years to offer full in-patient facilities around the clock and has the
latest state-of-the-art technology
including nuclear scintigraphy, digital
x-rays, digital ultrasounds, an array of
endoscopes and a great deal of other

Rob van Pelt explains the set-up:
“Although we are a large practice, we
do work as a team. Many of the vets
have developed interests in specific
fields. I do a lot of thoroughbred and
surgical work, calling on many of the major racing stables. Ed Lyall works a
lot with competition horses and also
has an interest in breeding, including
artificial insemination. Matt
Waterhouse specialises in internal
medicine and anaesthetics.

Information sharing

“There is a tremendous amount of
information sharing within the
practice. Each morning and evening
there are clinic rounds to examine all
in-patients and we also have a full
clinic meeting on a Thursday
morning where interesting cases are presented.

“There is a huge amount of internal referral work
within the practice where
one veterinary surgeon will
require assistance from
another vet who may know a
little more about the case.”

Rob explains that this
way, vets can build a
relationship with a client;
however, if they are unsure
in a particular situation they
will ask for help but retain
management of the case.
This way the team and the
client get the best service.

It was just this situation
where a multi-team approach
was used to nurse Tina
Cook’s horse Miners Frolic
back to form for her silver
medal in the team eventing
at the London 2012

Several stables warrant a
daily call and, during the
peak season, often more than
one. Some larger stables
provide a list that is faxed each evening to the
relevant vet so he or
she can plan his or her
day. The practice also
has its own laboratory,
which helps speed up
any urgent diagnostic
tests that are required.

Rob reports that despite the
recession having hit the country hard,
the practice has done well over the last
few years and has continued to
expand. He said it was very important
to keep up to date with technology.

Last year the bone scan unit was
replaced at a cost of over £75,000 and
new digital scanners were also

Attracting the best

“If you keep up with technology then
you can attract the highest calibre of
vets,” says Rob. “Recently, we
advertised for a new intern veterinary
surgeon. This person stays in the
clinic to learn as much as they can for
a fixed contract period. We have
received over 40 applicants!”

He continues: “The practice’s
ambulatory vets are busy on the road
every day looking after routine and
emergency calls. The well-being of
the horse is our priority: it doesn’t
matter if they have just run the Epsom Derby or are a retired 35-year-
old pony in the paddock, they all
deserve the same attention.”

The All England Show Jumping
course at Hickstead is not far from
the practice and the Arundel hospital
provides the veterinary services. It
keeps them very busy having to
provide cover in the international
arena for all the top classes; carrying
out medical checks; providing a
veterinary surgeon in passport
control; along with coverage of all the
outside showing and jumping areas.

Edward Bunn, one of the
Hickstead directors, told me: “With
the world’s best international show
jumpers competing at Hickstead, they
expect the very best in veterinary
care. The Arundel Equine Hospital
provides both vets on the ground and
at the back-up facilities at their
hospital to provide the care and
attention that many of our
international competitors are used

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