Thursday, 15 March 2012

Normal service will be resumed...

It's been a while since my last blog entry and I think that it's only right that I explain.  Some of you will already know that my cat, Merlin, has been rather ill lately and has needed a lot of treatment and observation.  This meant that I had to forget my trips to the public library to update my blog as I have no internet connection at home.  Of course, this also means that I am left with much emptier pockets and a long list of things that need doing.  I will, however, try to catch up as soon as I can.

One thing that my recent experiences have left me with is a burning desire to campaign for a National Veterinary Health Service (NVHS) for the UK along the lines of the National Health Service (NHS) for humans.  All the treatment that Merlin has undergone has come to around £2000, an amount that is only partially covered by the pet insurance.  I still have 20% of that amount to pay out.  There is an organisation called the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals(PDSA) that provides some cheap veterinary service but only if you live in the catchment area of one of their hospitals and you are in receipt of either Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.  I may be in a catchment area but I am not receiving either of those benefits so I could get no help from the PDSA despite the fact that Merlin's health problems were serious, possibly life-threatening.

Now, the UK has always prided itself on being a nation of animal lovers so I think that offering no help to people who may need to have a pet for, in my case, mental health reasons or simply because they need the companionship a pet provides but are not on Housing or Council Tax Benefits, is ludicrous.  In fact, not having a 'free at the point of delivery' health service for pets at all is ludicrous.  There may be problems that will arise as to who should be eligible for such as service.  For example, I think that the rich should pay for the treatment of their animals as they can afford it; however, families on low incomes and people who have animals for mental health reasons or sensory animals should get free treatment for their pets (if they don't already).  People who rescue animals from abusive environments should be similarly given free veterinary care for their adopted pets but, unlike the NHS that allows non-UK residents to have free non-emergency healthcare and operations, the NVHS should give free treatment only to UK residents' pets except in the case of emergency treatment for the financially distressed.  I'm not trying to be nationalist about it, I'm simply trying to ensure that the UK doesn't become the destination for veterinary health tourism as we have for human health.

If there was any doubt that the UK needs an NHS for pets, then I would put the argument forward that, as a nation of animal lovers, we need to show that by making sure that animals are cared for and not put down simply through lack of money for treatment.  It's disturbing to think that, if I had not had the foresight to get pet insurance, my cat would have been put down because I could not have afforded the treatment that has, I hope, saved his life.

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