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University launches £10 million Small Animal Teaching Hospital

THE UNIVERSITY of Liverpool opened its new £10 million state-of-the-art Small Animal Teaching Hospital earlier this month, placing the University at the forefront of small animal veterinary care in the UK.

The hospital, based at Leahurst, Wirral, provides the most sophisticated therapies and treatments available to small animals in the UK.

Its facilities include MRI and CT scanning, a keyhole surgery theatre, a radiotherapy unit and digital X-ray technology. The 86-room hospital, servicing the whole of Northern England and North Wales, can accommodate up to 72 in-patients. The facility is also used to train the 600 students on the University’s Veterinary Science degree programme in their final years of study.

Patron of the University’s Veterinary Development campaign which has funded the hospital, His Grace, the Duke of Westminster, said: ‘The University of Liverpool’s academic expertise spans a wide range of specialisms which is why the institution is ideally placed to provide such a wide breadth of treatments to animals in this country.

The Small Animal Teaching Hospital is a European Centre of Excellence in researching, treating and managing illness in small animals.’

The launch also marked the opening of Europe’s first Hill’s Pet Mobility Centre to enable a range of orthopaedic and musculo-skeletal research projects that could lead to improved treatments for conditions such as arthritis in cats and dogs a condition which affects 20% of adult dogs and 50% of cats over ten years of age.

Funded by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, the centre features innovative equipment including a gait analysis system, canine treadmill and kinematic motion capture technology which enables vets to study animal movement in a non-invasive manner. A patient’s movement is assessed on the treadmill and then evaluated using the gait analysis system so progressions in their mobility can be tracked whilst receiving treatment.

Treatment for cancer in small animals will be provided by the hospital’s Johnson Foundation Radiotherapy Unit, the only radiotherapy unit in the UK supported by both a therapeutic radiographer and a specialist veterinary oncologist.

The unit’s linear accelerator will provide tumour control and pain relief across a broad range of cancers and will also be used to train health science students on the University’s radiotherapy degree programme.

The referral-only Small Animal Teaching Hospital houses four operating theatres - one equipped with the latest technology for keyhole surgery which has become increasingly important for the treatment of animal diseases as it reduces the need for extensive surgical procedures and so decreases recovery time and post-operative pain.

The hospital’s imaging facilities are unrivalled in the UK, boasting two digital X-ray rooms, two ultrasound rooms and a dedicated echocardiography room for scanning hearts. The hospital is the only one in the UK with both an MRI and CT scanner in-house.

Professor Sandy Trees, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science commented: ‘These new facilities will enable Liverpool to provide world-class clinical treatment for cats and dogs as well as support a programme of research projects into diseases affecting small animals.

‘Our veterinary students will be trained in the most-up-to-date techniques available, which mean our graduates will consequently have a significant impact on the quality of animal health and welfare in the UK.’

The University expressed its gratitude for the support of Sir David and Lady Barnes, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, the Johnson Foundation, Lord Leverhulme’s Charitable Trust, the Pet Plan Trust, and the Westminster Foundation and numerous other generous donors.

Director of the University’s Small Animal Hospital and Head of the Hill’s Pet Mobility Centre, Professor John Innes said: ‘We’ll be using the data from pets being treated at the centre to improve our understanding of diseases, such as osteoarthritis, and the appropriate treatments for these conditions. We hope that this research will lead to an improved standard of living for these pets.’

* Website: http://www.liv.ac.uk