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How To Find The Right Surgeon or Consultant For You

Updated on June 26, 2013

Spire Murrayfield Hospital

Finding The Right Consultant or Surgeon

What do you do when you suddenly discover that you need a good surgeon or consultant?

That is a question I never really expected to have to consider until recently and then . . . . . . I wasn’t really sure how to begin. In fact, I had absolutely no idea.

That is, until I read, somewhere, about a medical review site called Dr Foster health.

It is a UK site and it provides THE most detailed information about consultants, surgeons, doctors and hospitals.

I have published a series of hubs, elsewhere in Hub Pages, about my wife’s surgery and my own experiences of Angina and Angioplasty procedures and, if you read those, you will see that, from a patient’s perspective, I have a little bit of working knowledge.

Back in 2009, when my wife was facing the prospect of surgery, our journey for a good consultant started in earnest, when the NHS doctors told my wife to abandon all hope of surgery for her complex Incisional hernia.

Well, not being a man who gives up easily, I started a quest that would last for many months and which would take us all over the UK, to find the one surgeon who must surely exist who would give us (and especially my wife) hope.

Whilst our final and wonderful destination was one we never expected, I started by scouring the Dr Foster site.

Firstly, I looked at consultants and surgeons and then, I discovered that they also had a hospital guide, which I trawled through as well.

Recently, my son was in need of a simple hernia repair but, knowing how in the hands of the NHS, even a simple procedure can turn into a life threatening experience, I started the process of looking for a really good surgeon all over again. And it looks as if Dr Foster has paid off once more.

My son saw the consultant we found, through Dr Foster, last night at 7pm and it seems that, so far, he is everything we had hoped for and expected. Thorough, professional and very personable. he has certainly put my son's mind at ease.

So, how do I use the Dr Foster site?

Well, firstly, once I have clicked the Consultant Guide tab, I enter the relevant details. In this case:

  • Body area – abdomen
  • Condition or procedure – hernia (any)
  • Speciality – General Surgery

Then, the site returns a list of all the surgeons who meet the specified criteria. In this case, I had selected 25 miles as the distance and our postcode.

The list of names has a series of blue boxes at the side of each name. Three boxes represents the best match and these are listed first.

What I do next is read all the profiles. These are split into ‘Hospital’ and ‘Professional’ and this is the crucial part. This is where you ‘get a feel’ for the consultant.

I work on the premise that if a consultant has taken the time and trouble to put as much personal and professional detail in here as possible, it means they care about their professional reputation and profile, so maybe they also care about how they actually do their job.

On the other hand, if there are very few details, all concentrated on one page, it gives me the impression that the consultant either has nothing special in their professional background worth writing about, or, they aren’t bothered enough to take the time to write a decent profile which gives a potential patient good, worthwhile information to consider.

It is rather like appearance really. When someone looks smart, it tells us they care about their appearance and how people perceive them, whereas, we always get the impression that scruffy people couldn’t really be bothered. Now, that perception may be quite false, but it the one most of us work with, so I applied the same logic to the Dr Foster details.

Then, once I have narrowed my search down to say just four or five possibles, I Google them. Quite often you will find that they then appear in other professional profile sites. Some have their own websites and in some cases you might find a newspaper article, sometimes good and sometimes telling a not so good story.

Again, this is more valuable information that helps to build a picture.

In some cases you will find the Dr Foster profile has information about how to contact their secretary (email and telephone) and sometimes, the consultant will publish his or her own contact number.

Finally, a few (and I consider this a really good thing) will also publish their consultation fee on the Dr Foster site. I consider this good because it means you now have all the information you need in order to reach a decision about whether to have an initial consultation or not. You now have:

  • Personal profile
  • Professional profile
  • Hospital background
  • How to make contact
  • How much it will cost

The last thing left is to meet the person and arrive at a judgement of whether or not you would trust them to operate on you.

The thing about this, which most people don’t realise, is that you can have a private consultation, which will cost £150 - £250 and yet still be treated on the NHS.

A lot of people, including a colleague of mine recently who needed a gallbladder operation, mistakenly think that if you have a private consultation, you then have to have private treatment also.

Not so!

Having the private consultation simply saves you weeks in waiting time and puts you in control of the first part of the procedure.

In the case of my colleague, he had expected to have his gallbladder removed in late August / early September, allowing for the NHS waiting times his doctor had quoted.

After we chatted and I told him what I am telling you, he had a private consultation 4 days later, for £150 and his operation was performed in the middle of June , 2 months earlier than he had originally expected.

So, if you are in need of surgery or are not sure and just need to see a good consultant, you don’t have to wait weeks and weeks for the NHS. For a relatively small sum you can choose your own consultant and see him or her in just a few days and suddenly be on track towards having whatever the problem is dealt with.

You will be in control, not some faceless NHS administrator and you will see the person when it is convenient for you, not when it is convenient for the NHS.

The link for the Dr Foster consultant guide is: http://www.drfosterhealth.co.uk/consultant-guide/

And the links for the Dr Foster Hospital guides are: http://www.drfosterhealth.co.uk/hospital-guide/ and http://myhospitalguide.drfosterhealth.co.uk/



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