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Island Referrals is a small, specialist team working within Island VetCare (an RCVS-recognised Veterinary Hospital) providing exceptional clinical and owner services for the island’s pets.

The team is headed up by Specialist Surgeon Ian Nicholson. We are also delighted to be able to offer a twice monthly Ophthalmology clinics for all Island pets with Juan Martin & Amna Salih from Optivet Referrals, and provide internal referrals to our Internal Medicine team, led by internationally renowned specialist Kit Sturgess

Ian Nicholson BVSc CertSAS DipECVS MRCVS
RCVS and ECVS Specialist in Small Animal Surgery

Since finishing his specialist training, Ian has worked in university and private referral hospitals in the UK as a general surgeon performing soft tissue, orthopaedic and neurosurgical procedures.

Ian has particular interests in helping pet owners to decide what to do for the best; avoiding over-diagnosis and over-treatment; patient safety; the benefits of surgical generalism; openness; and collaborative clinical research.

He also has a strong interest in teaching, and provides undergraduate teaching to vet students at the University of Surrey, plus post-graduate training to specialists, advanced practitioners and general practitioners in all aspects of small animal veterinary surgery.

Ian graduated from the University of Bristol in 2000 and spent time in mixed practice before undertaking further training for a year at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), London, then three years at the University of Cambridge Veterinary School.


Amy Brewer - Referrals Coordinator

As Referrals Coordinator, Amy has many roles within the referrals process, all helping to ensure not only the best outcomes overall, but making the whole experience as smooth and positive as possible, in stressful times. With a long history of working within the veterinary sector, and as a multi-species passionate pet owner, Amy’s personality and versatility mean she is an extremely capable and reliable member of the team.

Jean-Paul Bugarin Venegas MRCVS

As well as working as an experienced vet within the Island VetCare small animal practice team, Jean-Paul is studying towards becoming an RCVS Advanced Practitioner in Small Animal Surgery. This means he works alongside Ian Nicholson making sure all our surgical patients have the right level of veterinary care at every stage of their procedure.

Jessica Bridgman MRCVS

Jess is an experienced member of the Island VetCare small animal practice team, and is studying towards becoming an RCVS Advanced Practitioner in Small Animal Medicine. She works alongside and is mentored by Kit Sturgess, and provides continuity and cover for all Internal Medicine and Cardiology cases.

Sarah Vaughan Collier – Insurance Role

As well as the clinical and emotional sides of dealing with an ill or injured pet, the financial side cannot be ignored and can be a significant source of stress all round – which is where Sarah comes in. Dealing with pet insurance companies can be a minefield, and Sarah’s breadth and depth of experience, plus her tenacity and forensic eye for detail, mean that we will do what we can to help make sure there are no financial surprises in store.


Optivet Referrals

Optivet Referrals is the largest veterinary ophthalmology hospital in Europe, and as such provides leading expertise across all the veterinary species. Amna Salih and Juan Martin provide eye clinics and eye surgery at Island Referrals, and are both Ophthalmology Residents, which means they are studying to become RCVS-recognised Specialists in Ophthalmology in a structured programme supervised by RCVS-recognised Specialists in Ophthalmology. This is very similar to Registrars in human hospitals being supervised by Consultants. Amna and Juan are both highly personable, and will make sure care takes place on the island where possible – if not, they will make arrangements to transfer care to Optivet itself.

Dr Kit Sturgess

MA VetMB PhD CertVR DSAM CertVC FRCVS – RCVS Recognised Specialist in Small Animal Medicine

Kit is an RCVS-recognised Specialist in Veterinary Internal Medicine (and is also an RCVS Advanced Practitioner in Cardiology). Although Kit has taken a step back from providing direct consultations himself, by mentoring Jessica Bridgman as she undergoes further training in Internal Medicine he is still able to provide his skills and expertise to IR patients behind the scenes. Kit is a highly experienced and broadly skilled specialist. He and Ian Nicholson have worked together for a number of years and dovetail extremely well. Jess and Kit, with support from our Diagnostic Imaging, are key to Island Referrals’ ability to treat patients with more complex needs.

Telemedicine Special Support

Vedim – Reading digital images like CT and MRI scans is a Specialist skill in itself, and we have outsourced this to Paul Barthez of Vedim, who is a battle-hardened imager with many years experience under his belt. Paul rarely sits on the fence, and tells it how it is – two extremely useful qualities in somebody providing this service. Image reports normally take 2-5 days to return, but we can offer an express (<24hr) service for a small additional charge.

VetCT – Recently we have started working with VetCT which is an online Telemedicine Specialist Support Service, giving IR 24-hour access to back-up from multiple different Specialists, to be consulted as needed. Most commonly IR uses VetCT to access Specialist Neurologist support for neurological cases undergoing MRI scan, but from time to time other Specialists are consulted. This is the most cost-effective way of pet owners accessing the right Specialist advice without needing to travel across the Solent.


Island Referrals and Island VetCare share a large team of Registered Veterinary Nurses whom they have recruited and trained together since opening their doors in 2018. Led by our Clinical Manager Frances Jones, the nursing team are responsible for delivering our exceptionally high clinical standards 24-7-365, and are the life-blood of the clinical team.