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Frequently Asked Questions

The questions we are most commonly asked are detailed below. For ease of searching, they are grouped into three subject areas; referral and appointments, life in hospital, and lastly payments and insurance.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries which are not answered below.

Coronavirus FAQs

  • On arrival at the hospital, DO NOT enter the building. Please remain in your car and telephone the hospital on 01937 374888 and advise the client care team you have arrived.


    The clinician will call you on your mobile number in the car and this will be your consultation.


    The clinician will come to collect your pet following this.


    A Swift Referrals lead will be put on your dog. Cats will be transferred into a Swift Referrals cat basket before they leave the car. No personal items will be admitted with your pet.


    The clinician will examine your pet and will then call you again to discuss the next stages. Should your pet be admitted, the clinician will bring a consent form for you to sign to consent to what has been discussed, along with any insurance forms for completion and signing.


    Any deposits/balances needed to be paid will be taken over the telephone.


    A similar procedure will be adopted for collecting your pet from us. We fully appreciate that these measures are not ideal but are in-line with Government advice.

  • If you are unsure of whether you will be able to attend an already booked appointment, please call us on 01937 374888 or email info@swiftreferrals.co.uk and one of our Client Care team will be able to advise you accordingly.

  • Our client care team will ask you if you are self-isolating due to COVID-19, or if you have a cough. If you are coughing or self-isolating, then the following precautions will apply to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.


    A clinician will contact you by phone ahead of your appointment. This will effectively be the consultation. The nature of your pet’s illness will be discussed along with the urgency of the situation in order to determine when your pet should be seen at Swift Referrals.


    Following this consultation, a consent form will be e-mailed to you. You should print this, read it carefully, sign it if you agree to the terms and e-mail the signed form to the hospital. If you cannot scan or e-mail the form, bring a signed copy with you to your appointment. If you cannot print the form, then a paper copy will be given to you when you arrive at the hospital.


    Follow all the outlined steps in question one.

  • Any of the above following remote triage or consultation


    Severe trauma (e.g. RTA)




    Significant weakness or collapse


    Cough (after a one-week duration) or difficulty breathing




    Acute severe lameness


    Abdominal swelling


    Significant bleeding




    Toxin ingestion (if phone / video triaged as significant)


    Struggling to urinate or defecate


    Excessive urination or thirst


    GI signs (vomiting and/or diarrhoea) with significant mental depression


    Ongoing treatment and monitoring of Addison’s patients


    Monitoring or unstable diabetics



  • The consulting room worktops, chairs and door handles will be disinfected between consults.


    There will be no hand-shaking.


    Only one person may attend the consultation, unless a chaperone is required or there are other special extenuating circumstances.


    No personal belongings (bedding, toys, collars, leads or cat baskets) will be admitted with the patient.


    Patients’ food may be admitted only if there are extenuating circumstances.


    No visits are permitted for hospitalised patients unless the patient is critically ill or is being euthanised.

Referrals & appointments

  • Swift Referrals is a referral hospital. This means that every patient that arrives at Swift will have been sent there (referred) by their own vets (Primary Care vets). The lead clinicians at Swift have all received extensive additional training and been awarded additional qualifications in specific disciplines, and some of the clinicians are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and/or the European Board of Veterinary Specialists as Specialists in their chosen field. The hospital also contains state of the art equipment and this combination of expertise and equipment allows us to undertake complex investigations and treatments. Such investigations and treatments are only necessary in a relatively small number of patients; for the majority of ill cats and dogs, their own primary care vets are able to provide the effective care. Occasionally however, a pet will be ill to the point where their own vets can no longer help and our mission is therefore to provide excellent, compassionate care for those patients and their owners.

  • As we are a referral hospital, we can only see patients that have been sent (referred) to us by another vet. If you would like your pet to be seen at Swift Referrals, you should first speak to your own vet about this and should a decision be reached to refer your pet to us, they can then arrange this for you.

  • As soon as we receive notice of the referral from your own vet, our client care team will contact you to arrange a time for your appointment that is convenient for you. Of course, appointment times are also dictated by the severity of your pet’s illness, and we will see emergency cases on the day that the referral is made.

  • You are absolutely within your rights to request that your pet is referred to any particular hospital and you should speak to your own vets to request this. Bear in mind that there are some disciplines (e.g. ophthalmology, dermatology) that Swift does not currently offer a referral service for.

  • Generally, we request that food is withheld from 10pm of the night prior to the appointment. This is because recent feeding can interfere with the results of some diagnostic tests and can also increase the risks associated with anaesthesia and sedation. In some instances (very young patients, diabetic patients or those affected with low blood sugar for example, fasting is not advised. If you are in any doubt as to whether your pet should be fasted ahead of their appointment, please contact us for advice.

  • We will see patients with life threatening emergencies as and when necessary on a 24/7 basis and outside of normal working hours our staffing levels are set to cater for our hospitalised patients and emergencies only. All other appointments are seen during the week (Monday to Friday) when we have staffing levels in place to care for your pet as efficiently and effectively as possible. Please note however that if your pet is already under our care for a particular condition, and you have any concerns, telephone us at any time and someone will be able to help.

  • Provide your pet had not been referred on an emergency basis when time is of the essence, you can reschedule your appointment by contacting our client care team by telephone or e-mail. If you do wish to reschedule your appointment, please do let us know at your earliest convenience to that we can re-allocate your original appointment time to another patient.

  • We will often telephone your own vets to keep them informed of what is happening through your pet’s stay with us and very shortly following discharge a written report will be sent to your own vet which will detail every aspect of your pet’s diagnosis, treatment and plans for aftercare.

  • Many patients, depending on their individual condition, will require follow up visits following their initial stay at Swift Referrals. Occasionally these visits will have to be at the Hospital but depending on what is specifically involved with the visit, this can sometimes be booked in with your own vet instead. We aim to work closely with your own vets to allow a seamless continuity of care after your pet has been discharged from the hospital.

Life in hospital

  • The lead clinicians at Swift Referrals all possess extensive experience and additional qualifications in their chosen fields and they will be responsible for the care of your pet. They are supported by other qualified vets, and teams of qualified nurses, many of whom also possess additional post graduate qualifications. It is very important to realise therefore that the care of your pet is very much a team effort. Members of that clinical team will be onsite 24/7 to provide the highest standards of care to your pet.

  • As a general rule, we find that pets are often upset when their owners come to visit and then leave again and therefore, strangely, visits can have a negative impact on your pet’s experience of hospitalisation. For pets that are staying in hospital for a period of time longer than a few days however, visiting is certainly possible, and indeed visits from their owners can be helpful for some pets. Although we don’t have fixed visiting hours, visits are arranged during normal working hours, as outside of those hours all the staff in the building are solely engaged in caring for the hospitalised patients and emergency appointments.

  • Naturally we carry a wide range of specific diets and foodstuffs for dogs and cats. If your pet is to stay in hospital for a period of time, and particularly if your pet has specific dietary requirements, you should bring some of your pet’s usual food in with you when you come for your initial appointment. Many of our patients have compromised immune systems or are otherwise at particular risk of infection and therefore we cannot store or feed raw food to any hospitalised patient.

  • For hygiene purposes, we use our own bedding for all hospitalised patients. We have a range of toys as well to keep our patients entertained!

  • Dogs and cats are housed separately within the hospital and our cat ward is located out of sight, smell and, as far as possible, sound of the dog wards. Within the individual wards, patients can hear and small each other, but are housed out of direct line of sight of each other. We have a limited amount of kennel space that is physically removed / isolated from the other wards, and we will sometimes use this for patients that do not cope well with the normal ward system. All dogs are walked outside (provided their condition permits) several times daily on a lead and we have grass runs so they can enjoy some fresh air.

Payment & Insurance

  • Of course, costs will vary depending on your pet’s specific illness and the treatment option chosen. We will provide an estimate of costs which will be discussed with you during the initial consultation for routine appointments. For emergency appointments, we will provide an estimate of likely costs to your vet who can discuss these with you ahead of your appointment. If you would like to discuss costs with us prior to your appointment then please contact us and we will be happy to talk this through with you.

  • You should bring your insurance details with you to your appointment. As a rule, 50% of the estimated costs are payable at the time of the initial consultation, with the balance being due on collection of your pet. If your pet is not admitted to hospital, then the full bill should be paid at the time of the consultation.


    Please make sure you have read your insurance documents and are familiar with them as the conditions very between policies. Some insurance companies require ‘pre-authorisation’ prior to any treatment taking place, and while we are happy to provide this, it can take time for the insurance companies to process pre-authorisation requests.

  • Certain insurance companies (but not all) will allow us to process direct claims. In order to do this we will need the following information:


    Full clinical history for your pet (if you pet has been to different vets at various times, we will need to history from each vet, not just the most recent one).


    Your up to date insurance details.


    Permission from you to speak to the insurance company.


    It can take insurance companies several days to process requests for direct claims. Insurers require that all requests for direct claims are processed prior to treatment commencing so we cannot make a request for a direct claim once treatment has commenced. Insurers are only open during normal working hours. It may therefore not be possible to process a request for a direct claim in an emergency.


    If you would like us to make arrangements for a direct claim please inform us at the time your appointment is being made.


    Please note that an administration fee is levied for all direct claims to take into account the staff time involved in processing the paperwork.

  • If your insurance company does not settle the claim or any part of it then you are liable for the outstanding fees.

  • If your pet is not insured then 50% of the estimated costs are payable at the time of the initial consultation, with the balance being due on collection of your pet. If your pet is not admitted to hospital, then the full bill should be paid at the time of the consultation.