Head-to-toe health check
Do you have the nerve? From cholestrol to diabetes checks, heart to liver function tests, I've been there, done that and got the 'Your Doctor' badge.
With the NHS buckling under pressure, GP surgeries rammed and seemingly a different doctor working every time you manage to rugby tackle a receptionist for an appointment, it’s no wonder that private doctor surgeries are stepping into the gap.
The idea being that, for a monthly or annual fee, you can call up and get an appointment at your convenience, see the same doctor each time, talk through your issues without being rushed or dismissed with a ‘come back if it’s not cleared up in 4 weeks’ and feel so happy you’ll do star jumps on any beach you come across in your itty bitty shorts.
One of those companies is Your Doctor, newly opened in South Bucks with a plan to take the idea national, and on my experience there, it has a very good chance of success because – I’ll be blunt here – it’s a pleasure and relief to sit unhurried with a doctor, chatting through every little thing that you’ve been meaning to talk to your GP about, but feel too guilty to mention in a 5 minute consultation or as a blushing aside at the end of your child’s appointment.
I’m no fine-tuned athlete (unless eating out is due to be given Olympic status – I’m going for gold on that one), and I do have health irritations, queries and one or two bigger worries. If visiting the local GP surgery is like fighting a rear guard action, booking in privately is like mobilising your own army on a preventative attack. Incredibly empowering and a bit head scratchy too, because why wait so long to do something so goddam important?
So people, I’ve had a total Well Woman body check – everything from bloods for cholestrol, diabetes and liver damage through to a breast check and heart ECG. I’ll admit it, I did find the idea of a detailed health check a bit sweaty – that awful fear of finding something that’s wrong when you could live in blissful ignorance – but I’ve definitely had a shift in perspective over the last few years about how I think about my health, partly due to my age (read: ancient) and partly realising the limitations of the NHS. The time of passively expecting the GP to sort everything out with a pill is over. It’s now much more about being proactive in fitness, eating and well-being.
So this WellWoman check. It’s basically what you’d expect. I spent an initial consultation having my blood taken (look away, breathe, try not to think about that Dracula needle) and chatting about my general health with a really lovely GP called Ricardo di Cuffa, the owner of Your Doctor. Then the following week I had a second consultation where he literally went head to foot on the Muddy bod, checking out everything from vision to ankle reflexes (who knew?) and giving me the low-down on my blood tests. A few days later I received a full list of test results and the hard copy of the 12 month health plan we’d discussed.
‘What’s the verdict, granny pants’? I hear you cry (er, go on then). Why, thanks for asking. I’m delighted to say it’s good news for your resident wrinkly superblogger. Health-wise, I’m four years younger than my age – yup, they can work that stuff out for you. I’m relatively fit, most of it residual from my sport-mad teens and twenties. My heart and blood pressure are things of wonder. My good cholestrol has my bad cholestrol in a headlock (though that bad cholestrol has some WWE moves of its own so I shouldn’t turn my back in the ring). I could do to lose some weight, and I have some skin stuff to keep an eye on too. Other than that, I’m free to enjoy life. Pour me another glass of bubbly, I’m ready to celebrate!
The WellWoman check up is £525 so it’s a sizeable amount of money – only you can decide if it’s worth it to put your mind at ease and have a 12 month health plan moving forward – but having had some close friends very ill of late, I’d say definitely so. There’s also a WellMan medical for the same price which I think is worth its weight in gold when you think about how hopeless blokes can be at going to the doctor (Mr Muddy – you reading this?).
There are more specialist tests available too, like diabetes screening, liver function testing, sexual health screening – private clinics like Your Doctor can even do radiography on site which sounds much more fun than waiting for 5 hours at A&E. Unlimited access during opening hours to a doctor is £54.99 per month, or £39.99 for daytime only – the same as a gym membership. For those who find it hard to make it to day appointments or have real or ongoing health concerns this could be the answer, particularly as Anytime members have doctor access on a Sunday.
There’s another clinic opening at Champneys in Tring soon, but if you’re nowhere near these areas, check back to the website from time to time as they plan to expand quickly. There are plenty of other private clinics popping up around Oxon and Bucks too, though I can’t vouch for them personally. As ever let me know your thoughts – would you ever use a private doctor’s clinic? There’s a comment box below just waiting for your feedback!
Your Doctor, Park Hall Clinic, Wexham Park Hall, Wexham Street, Bucks, SL3 6NB. Tel: 01442 870551.