About us

About Weighbridge Referral Centre

Weighbridge Referral Service was establised in 1995 to provide the South Wales region and beyond with a dedicated veterinary referral service for the investigation & treatment of Small Animal Orthopaedic and spinal cases. It remains (March 2012) the only referral practice in South Wales offering this service through an RCVS Recognised Specialist in the field of small animal orthopaedics (View our “Steve Butterworth” page for details of what this means).

We provide this specialist service for all sizes of patient, from Pomeranian to Great Dane, from Burman to Burmese. We investigate and treat a variety of conditions that can be grouped under the following sections below, click on a section for more detailed information.

Common conditions treated:

Cruciate ligament disease / rupture
Dislocations
Elbow dysplasia
Fractures:
Affecting the Jaw
Affecting Joints
Affecting Long Bones
Affecting the Pelvis
Affecting the Spine
Affecting young puppies and kittens
Pelvis
Spinal
Young puppies / kittens
Growth deformity:
Angular deformity (bent legs)
Affecting joints (incongruency)
Hip dysplasia
Osteoarthritis
OCD
Patellar luxation (dislocation)
Spinal conditions:
Disc disease / rupture (back and neck)
Lumbosacral (“lower back”) disease
Wobbler syndrome

Appointments

What happens next?
Once the appointment has been arranged we generally send confirmation of the time and date through the post.  Also included with these details are directions to help you find us and a list of things you need to bring with you.  Obviously if your pet needs urgent attention then there may not be time for us to post these details.
Once this website is running smoothly it is quite probable that you will be directed here for this information rather than us posting material to you.

What do you need to do in preparation for the Appointment?

(1) PAPERWORK
Your own Veterinary Surgeon will either send to us, or else ask you to bring with you:

  • A letter of referral
  • Possibly a copy of clinical notes
  • Any X-rays or laboratory results relevant to the problem concerned

(2) BRING YOUR PET STARVED
The appointment made is for a consultation with Steve Butterworth to assess your pet and discuss what might be causing his/her problem and, if a diagnosis is clear, possible treatments.  However, we ask you to bring your pet starved from teatime the previous day (water can be left down overnight) in case we are able to progress with investigation / treatment.  If you have fed them that morning then there will NOT be an opportunity to take matters further.  Obviously this is very important in urgent cases since our intention will then be to pursue treatment on that day wherever possible.

(3) MEDICATION
If your pet is taking medication that is not related to the condition he / she is being referred for then this must be continued as normally as possible and you should bring a supply with you in case he/she is admitted.  If they are taking medication to help them with the problem they are being referred for then they may continue with this as long as it does not mask the signs.  For example if they are lame and are being given pain killers that stop them being lame then this might compromise the value of the consultation.  So the treatment should be stopped before they are brought to Weighbridge Referral Centre so that the signs are present when they are examined here.  For how long they will need to be taken off the medication will vary but will probably need to have been withdrawn for a few or several days.  Please check this with your own Veterinary Surgeon.

(4) INSURANCE DOCUMENTS
If your pet is insured then these may be required.  Our general policy is that owners pay us for the treatment of their pet and then claim the costs back from their Insurance Company.  In order for you to do this you will need to bring a Claims Form for us to complete for you.

However, we are well aware that many owners may want to ask us to take payment directly from their Insurance Company.  Although we reserve the right not to do so, in the majority of cases we are prepared to do this.  However, in order to do so you will have to bring with you not only a Claims Form but also your Insurance Policy Certificate and Schedule so that we are able to check, as far as we are able, that the condition will be covered by the Policy.

And what happens after the Consultation?
Once the Consultation is completed there are a number of possible outcomes:

(1) There might be nothing further to arrange or you might want to take your pet home to think over what has been discussed (or else discuss it with family) before deciding what to do next.

(2) If investigation is required then it might be possible for your pet to be admitted for this purpose on that day.  Otherwise arrangements will be made for them to be admitted on another day.  If they are admitted then it is probable general anaesthesia will be required and you will be able to collect your pet later that day.

(3) If surgical treatment is required then it might be possible for your pet to be admitted for this purpose on that day.  Otherwise arrangements will be made for them to be admitted on another day.  If they are admitted on the same day then whether they will be able to return home that day or will need to stay overnight depends on the nature and timing of the surgery.  If arrangements are made for them to return on a “surgery” day then there is a greater chance they will be home the same day, although this is still dependant on the nature and timing of the surgery.

Meet the Weighbridge team

Weighbridge Referral Service is headed by Steve Butterworth who is supported by a dedicated team of 6 Veterinary Nurses whose continuing education and professional development constantly improves the care of our patients.  All of the nurses play a part in the roles required of them such as receptionist, kennel nurse, taking radiographs, monitoring anaesthesia, surgical assistants and helping with the review of clinical cases (a sort of clinical audit).

Debbie Shufflebotham RVN (Head Nurse)

Way back in 1984 Debbie started working in a mixed veterinary practice in her home town of Stoke-on Trent and qualified as a Veterinary Nurse in 1988 having trained at Rodbaston College of Agriculture.  Since then she has worked in several small animal practices gaining a variety of nursing skills along the way. She did take a year off to travel around Australia but then returned to the UK and Veterinary Nursing. Deb has been working at Weighbridge Referral Centre since it opened in 1995.

Ruth Jones RVN

Ruth qualified as a Registered Veterinary Nurse from Pencoed Agricultural College, Bridgend in 2003. Since then she has worked in small animal practice, mixed and equine. She started working at Weighbridge Referral Centre in 2009.

Most of her spare time is spent with her young daughter and family. Any time she has left is spent trying to tire her bouncy Hungarian Vizsla ‘Ruby’.

Rhia Berni RVN

Rhia began her career in the Veterinary field when she started working in a busy mixed practice in 2002. She qualified as a Registered Veterinary Nurse in 2005 from Pencoed Agricultural College and then joined Weighbridge Referral Service in 2006. Rhia has two young children and enjoys spending time with them.  She also enjoys camping and keeping fit.

Nicola Acreman RVN

Nicky came into veterinary nursing relatively late into her career.  After many years of secretarial roles and 5 years working with recovering drug addicts, Nicky decided to take a change of direction, starting work in a veterinary practice in Bristol in 2007.  She qualified as a registered veterinary nurse in 2013, moved to Wales in 2014 and has been working at Weighbridge since April 2015. Nicky is married with 4 grown up children (2 of her own and 2 step-daughters).  She lives with her husband, her youngest step-daughter, 3 cats, a bearded dragon, a very old goldfish and a hamster.  Nicky’s hobbies are centred around her motorbike riding, having founded her own ladies motorcycle rally club in Somerset (of which she is still president) and attending social events in the biking community in the UK and Europe.  Nicky says retraining as a veterinary nurse is the best decision she has ever made.

Grisial Annest VN

Grisial started working in a mixed practice in 2014. She qualified as a Animal Nursing Assistant in 2015, and came to work in Weighbridge in June 2015. In her spare time she enjoys socialising, walking her 2 dogs, and horse riding.

Paula Smith RVN

Paula Smith VN
Paula began working in Veterinary Practice in 1985, finally gaining the opportunity to train as a Veterinary Nurse in 1996.  She qualified from Pencoed Agricultural College in 1998 and joined Weighbridge Referral Service.
Paula’s spare time is taken up with her daughter’s various social activities and her pets, which leaves very little time for much else.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Vet Referring me to Weighbridge Referral Centre?
Over the past twenty years or so the field of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery has expanded beyond all recognition.  With this it has become impossible for an individual Vet to be able to stay abreast of all these developments and even within the Veterinary Schools, traditional subjects have had their teaching time reduced in order to make way for newer ones.  This has led to Specialisation.  At the level of an individual practice this might mean one vet has more of a particular interest in certain areas whilst another is focused on a different area.  Beyond that, some veterinary surgeons, like Steve Butterworth, have taken their Specialisation to the level of gaining higher qualifications in that subject and becoming recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as a Specialist.  By dealing exclusively with pets that have a problem in such a Specialist field it is possible to gain far more experience than in a general practice and also it is possible to justify the expense of some of the Specialist Equipment that helps treat these problems successfully.

Weighbridge Referral Centre was established in 1995 to provide vets in South Wales with a Centre they could refer small animal orthopaedic cases to for treatment, a little like your GP referring you to see a Consultant at a Hospital.

Your being referred by your Vet is no reflection on their ability but a recognition that they feel your pet might be better treated by someone dealing with such problems on a regular and frequent basis in a Centre that is equipped for purpose.  Indeed, it is their responsibility to ensure that your pet is treated by someone suitably qualified to do so – who better to choose than a person that is recognised by our governing body (the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) as being a Specialist in that field

What is a Specialist?
Unfortunately, the understanding of what is meant by this term in the Veterinary field is made confusing by the fact that the use of the term specialist or consultant is not regulated at all, that is to say any Veterinary Surgeon can call themselves a specialist on the basis that they have a greater interest in the subject or, within their own practice, they do that type of work rather than their colleagues.

In order to try and allow Pet Owners to identify Veterinary Surgeons that have achieved a higher level of knowledge and experience in a subject the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons developed a list of RCVS Recognised Specialists in a number of subjects.  Small Animal Surgery (Orthopaedics) is one of these and from the RCVS list in March 2012 there are currently 24 of these residing in the UK.  According to the RCVS’s website the status of Recognised Specialist is not easily achieved.  To be included on the List, an individual must have achieved a postgraduate qualification at least at Diploma level, and must additionally satisfy the RCVS that they make an active contribution to their specialty, have national and international acclaim and publish widely in their field.  Recognised Specialist status is time-bound and the individual must reapply for recognition every 5 years to maintain their name on the List.  Hence, amongst the entire UK Veterinary Profession (at this time) they are the only members of the RCVS that are audited by their regulatory body with regard to their current clinical involvement and knowledge about the field in which they practice Veterinary Surgery.

How can I make an Appointment to see Mr Butterworth?
Because we are registered as a referral practice we are unable to see patients on a first opinion basis.  What this means is that all our patients come to us through referral from a primary care veterinary surgeon – a little like you being referred to a consultant at the hospital by your GP.  This helps to ensure that when your Pet requires referral to a Specialist they are sent to see an appropriate person.  It also allows us to be provided not only with details relating to the condition for which your Pet is being referred, but also for us to be given any background details of other medical conditions your Pet may be suffering with (or has suffered with in the past) that may be important to know about when it comes to investigating or treating their orthopaedic condition.

As a result of this it is inappropriate for us to make an appointment directly with you in the first instance as your own Veterinary Surgeon might not be directly involved in that decision. BUT ALL that is required for you to be given an appointment for your pet to be seen here by Steve Butterworth is for your primary care veterinary surgeon to contact us and request such an appointment.

How do I find Weighbridge Referral Centre?
Weighbridge referral Centre is about 3 minutes drive from junction 45 of the M4.  A map and directions to help you find us can be located under “Get in Touch” on the Home Page.

Will my Pet be operated on the same day as the Appointment?
If your Pet has a problem requiring urgent attention, such as a broken leg, then it is most likely they will be having surgery the same day.  For non-urgent cases, the Appointment is aimed at your Pet being examined by Steve Butterworth so that he can discuss the diagnosis (cause of the problem) with you and explain the treatment options before making any recommendations.  If you wish to proceed with those recommendations and there is time available after the clinic then again surgery will be carried out the same day.  However, time available for surgery on “consultation days” often has to be given over to patients needing surgery urgently, which means those with non-urgent problems will usually have to return at a later date once we know what the problem is we are dealing with.

Will my Pet need to stay overnight?
In most situations involving investigation only or following routine elective surgery it is possible for your Pet to return home the same day.  If, on the other hand, they are being admitted for treatment of an injury, such as a broken leg, or a spinal problem then it is likely they will stay in overnight (and possibly longer in the case of spinal problems).  Also, for elective patients having surgery in an afternoon there is a fair chance that they would need to stay overnight because they will not have recovered sufficiently from their anaesthetic in time to go home the same day>

Will you take payment directly from my Insurance Company?
Our general policy is that owners pay us for the treatment of their pet and then claim the costs back from their Insurance Company.  In order for you to do this you will need to bring a Claims Form for us to complete for you.
However, we are well aware that many owners may want to ask us to take payment directly from their Insurance Company.  Although we reserve the right not to do so, in the majority of cases we are prepared to do this.  However, in order to do so you will have to bring with you not only a Claims Form but also your Insurance Policy Certificate and Schedule so that we are able to check, as far as we are able, that the condition will be covered by the Policy.