My first visit to Pall Mall Medical, Manchester

Adam Lowe

Pall Mall Medical is a high-quality private healthcare service for self-paying and private medically-insured patients. Using Pall Mall means you can skip the usual waiting lists for any appointments, scans or surgery you need. Its CQC-certified clinics are located in Liverpool, Manchester and Newton-Le-Willows, and prices are quite reasonable, even out-of-pocket.

I was lucky enough to get to try some of Pall Mall’s services recently, and this is the first post in what will be at least a two-part series. Here I discuss the initial consultation I had, and later I’ll take about the scan I’ll be having, and how the whole experience went.

Why sometimes you might want to go private

Now, first let me start by saying that, like most Brits, I love the NHS. I truly believe it’s one of our best achievements as a nation. But I also understand that it’s under incredible pressure (politically, financially and bureaucratically) at the moment, and waiting times are huge.

Between Brexit and the coronavirus, it’s under strain. Every time I go to collect my prescription, there’s at least one item out of stock (sadly, the same item the last three times, so I’m almost completely out of one of my inhalers).

Moreover, every time I visit one of the (very patient, very compassionate) GPs at my local surgery, I see someone different. That’s no fault of their own and I could wait twice as long to see the same person, but wait lists are already several weeks. However, it does mean I have to explain everything all over again and sometimes, unfortunately, repeating the same sets of tests I’ve already undergone.

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If you have a health condition of any kind, or are ever unlucky enough to find yourself with a bug that isn’t clearing up on its own, then you probably know what I’m talking about. So in this instance, not only was I relieved to be able to skip the queue, I felt I was taking some of the pressure off the NHS at a time when every person through the door matters.

You might also be in a hurry, such as needing vaccinations or a check-up before going on holiday, for example. I suspect there are also a number of LGBT people who, for various reasons, decide to go private instead of going to the NHS (accessing PrEP or avoiding two-year-long queues to start the process of legally transitioning at a gender identity clinic).

There is of course another reason you might want to visit Pall Mall: they do cosmetic treatments, too, which usually aren’t available on the NHS. These are all entirely legitimate reasons to go private.

Photo by Hal Gatewood

Having a choice

I have, over the last few years, started developing migraines. I have also, perhaps as part of this, started developing some real problems with my eyes that don’t seem to be explained by a need for glasses (I went to an opticians and eye problems were ruled out). As a writer, this has obviously been an important issue for me to get sorted, and in a timely fashion.

I knew that if I went the NHS route, I’d have to see a GP, who would then refer me to a specialist clinic, which would then book me in for some tests, and then schedule another appointment for me to get the results. Based on past experience, if that takes three months, I’d be lucky.

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I knew that for something like this, which isn’t exactly life-or-death but which will make a big impact upon my quality of life now, going private would be a good decision. And thankfully, with Pall Mall Medicial, I was able to make an appointment quickly and easily with my choice of consultant, without waiting for a GP. It made things so much simpler.

My experience of the consultation

Now, again, I get wonderful service at my local GP’s surgery, but you know that the receptionists are rushed off their feet all day, and there’s usually a queue to get to the reception desk. There was none of that here.

When I arrived at the Pall Mall clinic on King Street, Manchester, I was welcomed into a spacious, comfy waiting area and offered my choice of hot drinks or water. The receptionist seemed relaxed and upbeat. The whole atmosphere was much more gentle and quiet.

There was only one other person in the waiting room, which was a nice change, and because I was able to book an evening appointment, I didn’t have to rearrange my whole day.

I was given some forms to fill in, but no sooner had I sat down with my drink than I was called through to the consultation room. I was really impressed with the fast turnaround and the excellent service.

The rooms were also immaculate. Depending on where you go, hospital visits can sometimes be a bit dingy, but this was light, bright and new. Little things like that really affect your mood and mindset going into the room, I think, and I went into the room smiling.

I saw neurosurgeon Ankur Saxena about my migraine/eye problems. Ankur was very professional and we never felt rushed. There wasn’t the usual sense that you only have 8 minutes – a situation which means many patients actually gloss over important symptoms or leave out potentially important information because they’re trying to use their time with maximum impact. That was appreciated.

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We had a good discussion about my history and my family history. I talked about how my vision has got worse in the last year or two, but that I’ve always had some low-level visual disturbances since I was a kid that hadn’t really bothered me. As the migraines have become more numerous, the visual issues have become more prevalent. It doesn’t feel like an aura, per se, since aura tends to be time-limited, whereas this is perpetual, only fluctuating in severity.

Ankur was able to do a neurological exam which I knew would be negative, checking my reactions and vision, but he was promptly able to suggest a named migraine specialist I should see and booked me in for an MRI. He briefly mentioned checking for cysts as a matter of routine, but I wasn’t made to feel worried or stressed about that. I felt heard, respected and confident in the process.

The speed with which a referral and tests could be booked in was refreshing. Normally, if you get an NHS referral, it’s to a clinic rather than a named specialist, so you might see someone different every time. By seeing a named professional, I could be sure I’d get the right advice and support – and straight away.

I am looking forward to my MRI and appointment with the migraine specialist now. I will report back once it’s through, so I can let you know how the whole process went.

More information

For more information, visit pallmallmedical.co.uk. Appointments are available six days a week, including outside work hours.

Manchester – 0161 832 2111 / Pall Mall Court, 61 King Street, Manchester

Newton-le-Willows – 033 00 58 44 55 / 1 Belvedere Road, Newton-le-Willows

Liverpool – 033 00 58 44 55 / 5 St Pauls Square, Liverpool