What is a Referral?

Just like doctors, no vet can be an expert in every field, and there are times when even the best primary care vet cannot deal with a patient's problems. At this stage they may well suggest referral i.e. sending the pet to someone who has greater expertise in that area and, potentially, more specialised equipment to deal with the problem.

Whilst there are veterinary surgeons with varying levels of qualification and expertise who take referrals from other vets, a recognised Specialist who holds a Diploma is the most qualified person who can be seen in the event that a referral is required.

What is a Specialist?

An officially recognised veterinary Specialist is an individual who has had advanced training leading to Diploma status in their field of expertise and who also fulfils other stringent criteria, such as those regarding their involvement in clinical work and research, as well as other responsibilities including the training of others involved in the veterinary profession. Specialist vet status is extremely difficult both to achieve and to maintain, and it is the highest level of recognition of expertise that can be attained in clinical veterinary work.

Our Specialist vets have national and international reputations and have written scientific papers, published in text books and regularly speak at local, national and international meetings. As well as offering continuing education to other members of our profession, our vets regularly attend scientific meetings in the UK, Europe and the USA in order to keep up-to-date in their specific fields of expertise. These meeting allow them to learn new techniques and exchange ideas with other international experts.

Why should I come to North Downs Specialist Referrals when my pet is being referred?

North Downs Specialist Referrals was established in 2005 and is one of the largest private referral hospitals in the UK. Our Specialist vets are amongst some of the world's most experienced and respected working in their fields.

We are totally committed to providing the highest levels of patient and client care. We have a professional, friendly team of staff who are dedicated to giving you the help, clear explanations and support that you require at what we fully appreciate can be a stressful time.

Specialist-led care

All our services are run by experienced Specialists in their disciplines. We offer access to one of the largest groups of Veterinary Specialists in UK and Europe - our vets are amongst some of the world's most experienced and respected working in their fields.

Multi-disciplinary care

We have Specialists in every major discipline of small animal veterinary medicine, meaning we can deal with the most complex of cases that require the involvement of many different Specialists.

Continuity of care

Our Specialists only work at North Downs Specialist Referrals and we have more than one Specialist in every discipline. This ensures we can provide excellent continuity of care for your pet.

State of the art facilities

Our hospital facilities are some of the best in Europe, with state-of-the-art equipment and designed with optimum patient comfort and hygiene in mind.

24/7 veterinary and nursing care of in patients

We have qualified vets and nurses caring for our inpatients 24/7 365 days a year including Bank Holidays.

Specialist level imaging service

All scans and x-ray studies at our hospital are supervised and reviewed as they are performed by Specialists in diagnostic imaging. This means optimal quality of studies are achieved and results are available in the shortest possible time.

Specialist level anaesthesia service

All anaesthesia and sedation at our hospital is supervised by Specialists in anaesthesia and monitored with state-of-the-art equipment. We are also able to provide anaesthesia and pain relief tailored to the individual patient.

Infection control

Infection control is extremely important in modern veterinary care. We have strict hygiene and infection control procedures whilst the hospital has been designed with cleaning and hygiene in mind. This results in very low infection rates that we are extremely proud of.


North Downs Specialist Referrals was founded 2005 and our Specialists have treated thousands of patients since then. Clients travel from all over the South East and UK to be seen at our hospital and many vets choose to see us with their own pets.

Want to know more?

If you would like to have more peace of mind before referral, please feel free to call us on 01883 741440 and speak to one of our Client Care team.

Arranging a referral for your pet

If you would like to refer your pet to see one of our Specialists please visit our Arranging a Referral page.