Rating this place is a difficult task. I've given it a rating as a vets, but that is unfair to its staff who do an amazing job.
On the negative side it's not somewhere you really want to be. For a start there's no appointments, so you have to queue, usually for at least a couple of hours. Once you do get called you get to see whatever vet is available, and there's a lot of different vets. There's no chance to build up a relationship with one. It's a bit of a conveyor belt. An example: one vet lets you hold your cat for blood tests, others will insist on getting a nurse in or even sending them into the back. Annoying as I'm well able to hold them and it's better for them if I do. Also, it's no frills treatment. Of course, it is a clinic for people on a low income, so avoiding unnecessary expense is needed. But as someone who's read up on their cat's conditions, I know I'm not getting some of the tests etc that might be available if I was able to afford a private vet. And of course, though most folks and animals there are nice, you do get to share a waiting room for hours with some you'd rather not. Days when badly trained dogs all start barking at each other are not pleasant.
I have to give five stars to the staff though. Some of them (naming no names) have been know to be a bit jobsworth, but with some of the folks that come in taking the proverbial (i.e. want free treatment for the dog because they want to buy the newest mobile or something) I can't really blame them. My cats have always been calm there, and while I give myself some credit for that, I think it also shows that the vets have a good attitude. I also feel happy if my cats have to go in for an operation: unlike some small vets they have staff on duty 24 hours. By the way it's not free, you pay a £10 consultation fee plus medical costs. As an example a few years ago dentals for my cats cost £150 each at a private vets, and a couple of years later £40 at the Harmsworth.
And yes, it is the place that featured in 'Animal Hospital' with Rolf Harris. It is kind of cool to be able to say your cat has been seen by a celebrity vet, but it's not worth it. If you have the money, you should go to a private vet, to avoid your animal waiting around for hours if nothing else. Most of the ones off the telly seem to have moved on now anyway
I feel I must stick up for this place based on my visit there.My 16 year old Norwegian Forest Cat had another bout of Cystitis so I had to take him here.The lovely young lady vet was most courteous and professional and I really couldn't ask for more care and expertise then was given.I actually think the care was better then the previous time he was ill and I took him to a private vet (I have since being reduced to part-time hours at my work so can no longer afford a private vet).I was even in and out in an hour,although I realize people aren't always this lucky.As previous posts have said it can be annoying in the waiting room when you get a 'canine chorus' but that is the price you have to pay for cheap treatment.
I can't believe the grumblers. This organisation is charitable and relies on donations. If you are there then it's because you are in need of financial help, and as far as I'm concerned you therefore have no right to grumble every penny spent is spent as wisely as possible so that they can cover a larger number of animals. Expecting premium care and attention means you may be depriving another animal in crisis with the care it needs.
Targeting staff with your frustration is also unfair they work long hours and have to deal with very many bad-tempered clients or lonely people wanting to chat. Their priority is the animals and that, as far as I'm concerned, is the right way for it to be.
I've used the Harmsworth twice in an emergency and I think they do a fantastic job with the little they are given. Really fantastic.
Next time you are frustrated by a long wait or lack of a smile from someone understand that it's because of the huge volume of demands that are made on the hospital and maybe make a small donation to help out, on top of your fee, that's what we did. Just £5 or £10 but it's a nod to the idea that you shouldn't take on a pet then expect someone else to provide it's healthcare at low cost for the whole of its life.
It's an emergency service, not the vet at the corner of the road. So keep your expectations more realistic and be a little more generous with the people who work there, please. It upsets me that they are being targeted when it's a charity and they are doing the best they can. Other vets have a huge mark up on their costs and they also make mistakes.
I have given them two stars for trying but the service is over used and frankly even abused by those on low incomes that have several Dogs.
If your not working and cannot afford a Dog, don't get one period.
But the same people supposedly on a Low income sneak outside and smoke like 20 cigarettes and drink lager while they wait the 3 or more hour wait! and many people are more sick looking than the several Dogs they bring with them.I sat next to a lady that clearly had a very severe scalp infection and smelled strongly of urine,but she had her lager and cigarettes!.
The system was brought about for genuine animal lovers whom are in genuine temporary hardship but that system is clearly being abused.
I'm on DLA benefits,but I would eat baked beans for a week to save myself going through what me and my pooch went through last time,
so many huge and aggressive pit-balls snarling at my poor Bichon Frise
in his little red coat! and some of the owners looked and had an attitude like their pit-balls believe me!.
The poor very young vet was seriously overworked.(as there was only one)
my dog was on the table for seconds and overall the medicines are not that cheap anyway that I would go through that again ever.
Basically its just over 50% cheaper with 60% more stress than going to a private vet.
I guess in life you get what you pay for,or don't want to pay for!...
This user has arrived from Qype, a European company acquired by Yelp in 2012. We have integrated the two sites to bring you one great local experience.