A VETERINARY hospital in Somerset has had to cut the number of animals it can treat due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Mount Veterinary Hospital is now seeking permission for a portable building on its Taunton Road site so that it can operate at full capacity.

It is asking Somerset West and Taunton Council to allow it to put up the building for two years for use as two consulting rooms.

A statement accompanying the application says: "This temporary structure is required to aid compliance with social distancing guidelines as a result of coronavirus and will enable consultations to take place in a Covid secure environment.

"The proposed development will enable the practice to operate at its pre-Covid capacity and will not involve an intensification of the existing use at the site."

Under current arrangements, animals undergo initial assessment with owners present in the car park to adhere to Government advice on managing the pandemic.

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Further assessment is then undertaken by the vet alone inside the existing premises.

The statement adds: "This is not ideal because owners are not allowed to accompany animals into the building and safe distancing means that vets must use the existing dental rooms located on the west side of the building furthest from the car park.

"Current arrangements mean that consultations have had to be extended from 10-minute slots to 20-minute slots, reducing the number of consultations available each day for existing customers.

"As the weather deteriorates into the winter months, this arrangement will become very difficult or potentially impossible to maintain.

"There is a need therefore for additional and suitable accommodation to temporarily extend the premises and maintain existing levels of service.

"The portable building has been purpose-built for the medical profession by Britcab, a company that specialises in portable buildings."