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As the only dedicated veterinary ophthalmology centre in the North of Scotland, Scottish Vet Referrals offers a unique service to this area.
Scottish Vet Referrals was co-founded by Tony Wall and Kirsten Macleod, both veterinary ophthalmologists with a wealth of experience behind them. They set up this facility to offer a referral service to veterinary practices in the North of Scotland for complex and challenging eye cases.
Scottish Vet Referrals is a ‘second opinion’ practice working in partnership with established veterinary practices. It currently provides ophthalmology services for all animals with eye disease, including diagnosis, treatment and surgery, as well as providing emergency care. In addition, it is the only practice North of Edinburgh to be qualified to examine and certify dogs for freedom from hereditary eye diseases (British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club Eye Scheme).
“It’s still early days,” explains Tony Wall, “but we’re already providing our services across the Highlands and Islands, as well as in Aberdeen, Perth and into the central belt. At the moment, there are no other dedicated veterinary ophthalmology practices apart from the universities in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
“We moved into our new building on the Inverness Campus in December 2016. Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has been very good to us, and we were awarded a generous grant to help with the build. Although the whole process took some time, a couple of people in particular within HIE have been very helpful. For example, Ruaraidh MacNeil, who’s the Campus Project Director, really understood and supported our vision and what we wanted to achieve.
“Now we’re in, the facility is fantastic – we have a great working environment with state-of-the-art equipment. We expect to be able to offer other referral disciplines quite soon. We are excited about the opportunities for collaborating with others on the Campus and in the Centre for Health Science.”
We are excited about the opportunities for collaborating with others on the Campus and in the Centre for Health Science.Tony Wall, Veterinary Ophthalmologist: Partner , Scottish Vet Referrals
Scottish Vet Referrals’ core service is ophthalmology, which will remain a key area for this practice. However, partners Tony Wall and Kirsten Macleod are planning to extend the services they offer into other conditions in the future. Eventually, the practice plans to expand into a multi-disciplinary referral centre, where the team will be augmented by veterinary surgeons with other areas of expertise. The purpose-built centre on the Inverness Campus has been built to accommodate this expansion.
“We designed and built this dedicated facility with the equipment and environment to facilitate our future plans,” says Tony Wall. “The nurses we employ are the best and are key to the care and welfare of our cases. Soon we intend to expand into oncology, providing treatment and care for difficult cancer cases.”
Scottish Vet Referrals is also keen to not only develop its clinical work in veterinary ophthalmology but also in the area of One Health, a unified approach to human and veterinary medicine. This particularly relates to transmissible diseases between animals and humans. With the cluster of renowned scientists, researchers and academics based in and around the Campus, the team recognises there are excellent opportunities to collaborate with others on the Campus in areas such as One Health.
“It’s another reason we wanted to be based on the Campus,” explains Tony Wall. “It’s been built with a collaborative ethos in mind, and it’s home to some truly world-leading scientists and academics, like Professor George Gunn of Scotland’s Rural College. He is interested in clinical data collection and analysis from all animals, which ties in well with our need to establish effective evidence-based medicine. The University of the Highlands and Islands also has several specialists we hope to work with, including Professor Ian Megson, Head of Health Research; Professor Phil Whitfield, Director of Lipidomic Research; and Dr Antonia Pritchard, Senior Lecturer in Genetics and Immunology.
“It’s still early days, but we’re optimistic about the opportunities to combine and share our research knowledge and skills.”
Many of the people based in and around the Campus are at the very top of their fields, including the team at Scottish Vet Referrals, and this helps to attract other talented people to the area.
“We’re part of a real hub of expertise here in Inverness, and particularly at the Campus. So I don’t think we’ll find it difficult to recruit the great people we’ll need. I think it depends on your organisation and its reputation and the work you’re doing, particularly when you’re located north of the central belt. If you’re doing good work, you can get good people.” Tony Wall, Veterinary Ophthalmologist: Partner
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