Putney Animal Hospital Closing for Good on September 30

The RSPCA is engaging in a cost-cutting exercise of enormous magnitude. I have read that they are closing four facilities including two hospitals and one of which is the world famous Putney Animal Hospital. This hospital is in prime London real estate country. It is a very valuable site which is why, no doubt, it is being sold to help raise £47 million which they need to plug a gaping hole in their finances.

Putney Animal Hospital will close Sept 30th

I walk past Putney Hospital quite frequently as it's quite near my girlfriend's home. It is in West Putney. It is surrounded by expensive residential homes and opposite a school. It is a short walk from Putney High Street. Rolf Harris, the now disgraced entertainer and presenter, presented an animal television programme from this hospital. In addition other television programmes had been made there. These were high profile television productions. The place is that famous.


They provide a discount service and do an awful lot of good. It is questionable whether the animals who have been treated at the hospital will be able to find an alternative anywhere near as good or as convenient. Twenty percent of all of the RSPCA’s frontline work is takes place at Putney.

The RSPCA say they spend nearly £2 million a year running the hospital together with Southall cattery clinic. They say that their spending is outstripping their income and they have to reduce costs. They're very sorry for the closure and they realise that it will be highly upsetting. There have been protests. And the staff are devastated. They had believed at one time that the hospital might be taken over by another charity but that has not come to fruition. It's come as a big shock to them and it is now sinking in that they will be without jobs in an incredibly difficult job market.

Protest. Photo: Mask off.

This has little to do with the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on many charities but this is not the case in respect of the RSPCA's difficulties. In my honest opinion, this is about poor management. There has been a long history of making bad decisions which I think has affected donations. The RSPCA is perhaps the UK's most high-profile animal welfare charity and perhaps the largest. I just don't think they have managed it properly by focusing on their core business which is animal rescue and welfare. For example, there have been problems in prosecuting people who should not have been prosecuted for animal cruelty. At that time the then chief executive thought that high-profile prosecutions would improve animal welfare but it didn't. That person left but there is a legacy of inadequate management I would argue.

The RSPCA are redirecting clients who would have used Putney Animal Hospital to other facilities such as The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons "Find a Vet Service". Surprisingly, they are redirecting people away from their charity. They are saying go away, go somewhere else and don't use us. It's a rather feeble announcement on their website which makes depressing reading.

Apparently two of the facilities that they are closing - one of which is an equine centre in Goldaming -  were bequeathed in wills not long ago. I'm sure that relatives of the deceased person who bequeathed the centres will be upset by this news. It's cashing in on bequethed gifts rather than running them as was almost certainly the objective of the gift.

They are also cutting back on middle and senior management. I understand that the cutbacks represent about 20% of the costs of the charity. In all there will be around 300 redundancies. The plans include the moving of RSPCA Wimbledon, Wandsworth and Sutton district branches. They feel that they have too many hospitals in London and that they need to rebalance their services going forward.

The bottom line is that they have run out of money and that the RSPCA is shrinking. It's about a drying up of donations and the pandemic has had an effect but at the root of the matter is a failure in management.

Putney Animal Hospital Closing for Good on September 30  Putney Animal Hospital Closing for Good on September 30 Reviewed by Michael Broad on September 14, 2020 Rating: 5

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