The Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA) has come a long way since being established 30 years ago.
Over the decades the QMHA has consistently pushed the boundaries of veterinary practise. In 1986 there were no comparable hospitals to which the most complex cases could be referred. The referral sector has expanded over time, but the QMHA has continued to lead the way and remains one of the most advanced veterinary hospitals in the world.
RVC Small Animal Referrals, which is based at the QMHA, offers the largest and most comprehensive small animal referral service in Europe.
We spoke to vets who have referred cases through the decades about their early memories of the hospital, perceptions of how it has evolved and the things they find most valuable about the service.
Murry Welsh and Ralph Bailey are partners at East Barnet Veterinary Surgery. Having both graduated from the RVC, they worked in different environments before joining the East Barnet practice.
Recalling his earliest memories of the QMHA, Murry said: “When it was first opened we called it the ‘Little Chef’ because it looked a little like the roadside cafés. It was a much smaller organisation and I knew a lot of the clinicians from my student days - it felt like a small close-knit community. I remember the clinicians fondly, as teachers and friends. People like Gary Clayton Jones, Ralph Abercrombie and Malcolm Cobb, and Professors Mac Johnson, Peter Bedford and Leslie Vaughan. I also remember Ross Bond and Matthew Pead, who continue to be a source of help and support to us general practitioners.”
Murry began referring cases to the QMHA when in his first job, as a general practitioner. Knowing many of the clinicians personally and because of the new and innovative services on offer, he said it was “an obvious choice”. The growth of the hospital and the expansion of the facilities on offer has been greatly enhanced by the generosity of donors over the past 30 years.
Asked about the biggest changes to the service over the last 30 years, Ralph singled out the development of a first opinion emergency service and innovations in diagnostic imaging.
Commenting on the QMHA services he most frequently uses, he said: “The ability to refer cases via the emergency service is the most helpful thing as it allows us to send over cases requiring urgent intensive care, as well as neurology, ophthalmology, complex medical cases and cardiology cases. We also have more requirement for advanced imaging techniques, such as MRI and CT, from our clients now.”
In relation to what is offered by the RVC team, Murry said: “With the inevitable progress in veterinary medicine and surgery, the diagnostics and surgeries that are now available mean I can offer my clients a much wider-range of treatment options and thus a better service. It provides great peace of mind for more difficult cases knowing that I have experts and facilities available close by. I also think the clients are reassured that their pet is being referred to a large multidisciplinary university teaching hospital.”
Murry also mentioned the evolution of diagnostic imaging capacities, such as arthroscopy and echocardiography, and the hydrotherapy pool and underwater treadmill used for dogs recovering from operations and injuries or those with orthopaedic and neurological conditions. Both Ralph and Murry expressed appreciation of the free CPD offered by the RVC team.
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