Update on the future of U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital

The University of Melbourne has provided an update about the future of U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital.

The University of Melbourne has today confirmed changes regarding the future of the U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital (U-Vet), following a four-week consultation period with U-Vet and Melbourne Veterinary School staff.

After considering feedback received during consultation, the University has made the decision to cease operating U-Vet, effective Saturday 24 December 2022.

This change has been necessitated by a number of ongoing operational challenges that make operating U-Vet unsustainable for the University. These include a reduced case load, restricted opening hours due to an inability to fill rosters, challenges in the attraction and retention of staff compounded by a shortage of veterinary staff in the market, and a significant fall in revenue over several years as net costs have more than doubled.

The University thanks all staff members at U-Vet for their ongoing commitment, care and professionalism towards their patients and broader community. This decision is in no way a reflection of the hard work and dedication of U-Vet staff.

Staff members affected by this decision have been informed directly and will continue to be supported as the University prepares to close U-Vet. This includes access to additional dedicated counselling services that have been running onsite at Werribee since the proposal was first announced in early November.

Redeployment and payout periods for staff will commence from January 2023 to ensure that staff will continue to be paid as normal over the Christmas and New Year period.

Future plans at Werribee

The University remains fully committed to the ongoing operation of our Werribee campus and the delivery and excellence of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program for our students. Over many years, various modifications to the current teaching model and operations have been explored to ensure that the hospital was able to provide our students with the clinical experience required.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell said: “As the only University in Victoria offering a globally accredited Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree for students through our Melbourne Veterinary School, we are fully committed to the delivery of this program.

“Our Werribee campus is an important hub for teaching and research, as well as equine specialist care through the Equine Centre.

“The need for veterinary services in the local area was by far the most common concern during engagement with staff, students, members of the community and other stakeholders.”

After exploring the potential for a third-party veterinary business to operate from the Werribee animal hospital facility in the future, the University is pleased to announce it has agreed to lease the facility to one of the national leading providers of comprehensive veterinary services, Greencross Pet Wellness Company.

Greencross Pet Wellness Company will establish and operate a veterinary general practice clinic, together with a 24-hour specialist and emergency hospital, at the facility from early 2023, adding to its extensive network across Australia.

As part of this agreement, a number of University staff members will work with Greencross Pet Wellness Company in the hospital to provide clinical teaching and placement opportunities at Werribee for the University’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students.

Professor Maskell said: “University staff members will provide frontline clinical care for patients within the context of our clinical education, and a key component of their role will be ensuring the quality of clinical experience for our students, together with Greencross Pet Wellness Company staff.

“This agreement will benefit the University’s students who will be exposed to a broader range of clinical opportunities and local pet owners who will have access to a veterinary hospital with increased opening hours and more extensive services.”

The University’s agreement with Greencross Pet Wellness Company was finalised following the final outcome of the consultation process.

Such ‘embedded distributed’ clinical teaching models are already in place in several other accredited veterinary schools around the world and is a recognised framework for the delivery of clinical teaching by veterinary accrediting bodies.

Learn more about Greencross Veterinary Hospital at the University of Melbourne.