Arranging a Referral

If your pet needs to be referred you must discuss this first with your veterinary surgeon who will contact us on your behalf. If your pet needs to be seen urgently, your vet will need to telephone us in order to arrange the appointment for you.

Your vet may wish to discuss your pet's case with us by telephone prior to making a decision regarding referral.  In some cases he or she may send us X-rays or pathology results beforehand.

Your vet should be able to supply you with a client information sheet that has a map on the back. Alternatively you may wish to view and download a map from our Location page.

What you need to bring with you

Your vet should supply us with a letter of referral giving details of your pet's relevant history and a brief summary of the problem.  He or she may ask you to bring this with you, or they may fax or post this to us in advance of the appointment – it is best that you check with your vet regarding the arrangements that have been made in this regard.

You should bring any X-rays, scans or other information that your vet may have supplied.

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It is a good idea to have made some brief notes about your pet's history e.g. regarding dates of events and any signs of problems which you may have noticed, as our vet will ask you questions about this during the consultation.  It is also worth making a list of your own queries or concerns which you can check at the end of your consultation, to make sure that we have addressed them all for you.

You should bring any relevant insurance documentation, including a blank claims form.  You will also need to bring a means of payment.

Your appointment

We much prefer that you, the owner (rather than an agent such as a friend, neighbour or driver) bring your pet to us.  This is because we will be asking detailed questions about your pet's history and expecting to deal with the person who has responsibility for decision-making, not only regarding treatment for your pet but also with respect to financial considerations.  In the event that your pet is admitted to the hospital on the day of the appointment, we will also ask for signed consent for any procedures which have been decided upon.  It is very important that you have a full understanding of your pet's condition and what the implications of any proposed investigations and treatment may be.  If you have any doubts at any stage, please do not hesitate to ask for clarification.

Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment time to enable your pet to be registered before seeing the veterinary surgeon. Complimentary refreshments are available in the waiting area, and our receptionists and animal care assistants will be pleased to give you any help that you or your pet need on your arrival. A member of nursing staff will always be available to show you around the practice, should you so wish.

If you are unable to keep your appointment or you are held up in traffic, please let the practice know as soon as possible.

During your appointment, our referral veterinary surgeon will take time to obtain a detailed history of your pet’s medical background as well as the current problem.  A thorough clinical examination of your pet will then be performed and any findings and provisional diagnoses will be fully discussed with you at the time.  Your pet may then go home after the consultation with suggested management or treatment, but it is also quite possible that further tests or procedures e.g. blood tests, imaging (X-rays or scans) and/or surgery may be required.


Whilst we will make every effort to perform investigations and possible surgery on the same day as the consultation (if this is in the best interests of your pet and in line with your wishes), there is no guarantee that it will be possible to do everything on that day.  It may be that initial work will be done on the day of your appointment, and that your pet may be hospitalised for further diagnostic and possible surgical procedures to be carried out over the next few days, depending upon circumstances.  It is also possible that your pet may need to go home after the consultation (possibly on treatment) and return for diagnostic or surgical procedures at a later, mutually convenient date.  Again, this depends upon the circumstances of the case and the current workload at the practice.

It is important to understand that, like a large human hospital, North Downs Specialist Referrals provides an Accident and Emergency service, and urgent cases must take priority when we are organising our patient care.

If you are at all unsure about what to do regarding your pet's referral to us, please do not hesitate to telephone our reception staff who will be happy to help.

Insurance claims

Under normal circumstances, we ask that you pay us at the time of treatment and claim back the funds from the insurance company yourself.

You will need to check with your insurance company about your level of cover, any exclusions you may have and what excess you will need to pay. We will do our best to help with this process, but insurance companies often prefer to deal with the policyholder.

Direct claims

We are happy to arrange direct claims subject to certain terms with insurance companies where the payment can be pre-authorised prior to the appointment. If you wish to have a claim pre-authorised you should contact us prior to the appointment as the process can take several days. There is significant administration time involved in this process so an administration fee is charged. It is your responsibility to check your policy limits and exclusions before your appointment. For further information please download our Insurance Claims leaflet  (PDF File 1.5MB).