Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Harley Street: Where All Your Medical Dreams Come True

As opposed to my recent run-in with NHS (see two past posts),* the private health care system here in London has treated me quite well, thank you very much.  Not only has my one visit to a private hospital been extremely pleasant (think 3-4 star hotel with actual delicious food), but I have discovered the allure of Harley Street.

Harley Street for the non-Londoners out there is a quaint Victorian/Regency-era street in Marylebone where each "block," or building contains a different set of carriage-trade specialists.  Although there is still the odd IKEA interior for these stately exteriors (not uncommon), the aspects of Harley Street that set it apart from even American health care is the service.

You are always offered a drink upon arrival, most offices take insurance, and you get appointments the same week, sometimes the same day.

Last week, I went to an ENT specialist (my cold has persisted and evolved since mid-September) and was not only able to get a same-day appointment, but thereafter got a same-hour CT scan (amazing! - my MRI in the states took months, even on insurance) and a follow-up appointment to review the scan later in the week.  I now understand why I can't breath through my nose and my heart is full of warmth and love for the nurse at 109 Harley Street who knew enough about fashion to note that my coat's weave as opposed to my scarf was houndstooth.  Amazing.

Most doctors on Harley Street also work the NHS system, as there isn't enough private practice to go 'round.  So the quality of care and expertise isn't necessarily all that different, but the service and timeliness of it all is worlds apart.

The moral of the story is to work for a company on this isle that provides private insurance.  You still get the benefit of NHS, which is still pretty good for the serious stuff, but the speed and service of the private system for the specialty, non-threatening health concerns.  Like breathing.

*for the record, the issue of being referred to social services has all sort of resolved itself - the social worker whom I spoke with said she didn't think there was anything to report, she would be upset about the referral if she were in my shoes, and as a bonus I get to use the services of *another* sleep consultant, courtesy of the UK government

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