If your pet has a problem during surgery hours, please telephone the practice immediately and we will ensure that you are offered an appointment on a priority basis. Please make it clear that the matter is not routine and we will do our utmost to attend to you at the earliest opportunity.
Please follow our guidance for emergency arrangements during evenings and week-ends by calling our practice and following our answerphone instructions.
The out of hours service is manned by our own vets and based at the Chester-le-Street surgery. Pet animals in emergency situations are best treated at the surgery. Please remember that the vets do cover large animals as well, and may not always be in a position to answer the phone. It is never just ignored! All the phones show missed calls, so the vets will phone you back when they find a missed call. None of our phones have activated voice mail - if you get this you have mis-dialled! Do not try to leave messages on the answering machine or send the vets text messages, as there may be a considerable delay before they are found. Please DO NOT contact the practice by e-mail or via Facebook or yell.com in an emergency.
Whilst the duty vets do not mind being phoned in an emergency or urgent situation, please bear in mind that they cover 'on call' in addition to their normal working days and avoid phoning them late at night for minor matters or to ask about surgery opening times.
Out of hours clients will be directed to the duty vet covering that night or weekend. We are unable to grant requests for 'preferred' staff out of hours.
Clients should realise that an increased fee is charged for services out of hours. Most credit cards are accepted. Credit can only be extended to regular, long-term clients of the practice. If you are in receipt of a means tested benefit, you may be eligible to attend the PDSA - their number is 0191 4382881 (Felling).
Clients of other practices should contact their usual surgery to find out what arrangements have been made for emergency cover.
Our phone number is 0191 3885125 - an answering machine out of hours will direct you to the mobile held by the vet on call that night. Please do NOT retain this number for future use - there are at least five mobiles within the practice, so only a 20% chance that a kept number will be in use on another night. Make sure that you listen to the full message on the machine, as we have recently had problems with the vodafone network in some areas, and several members of staff are giving you an alternative number, on a different network, at the end of their message, to use if you get the 'phone switched off' message. Our on call phones ARE NEVER, EVER, SWITCHED OFF overnight. There are several new 'dead spots' in local area coverage, and you may get the 'phone is switched off' message if the vet is working in or driving through one of these places. Vodafone never seem to say 'our network is down'! The worst aspect of this problem is that the phone itself shows full signal bars, and will dial out on test calls, so the duty vet has no way of realising that it is not taking incoming calls. Vodafone have been unable to give us a date of resolution.