When researching a private dermatology appointment, consider these 10 tips from someone who has worked in the industry for many years.
If you do go to a private dermatologist – ask them LOTS of questions about your skin. Write a list, take photos if needed. You want to get the most out of the first consultation to avoid frequent visits. Also, your skin may feel really bad, or only a little bit out of sorts – either way a private dermatologist can help clear your skin now, and give you the knowledge to keep it healthy going forwards.
You can book straight in. This may differ if you’re going through insurance, but if you’re self-funding, you don’t need to get a GP referral.
Unfortunately there are a lot of people masquerading as doctors to treat your medical skin needs (when either they are not a doctor, or their experience is predominantly cosmetic). As skincare is such a vast (and largely unregulated) industry it can be easy to be taken for a ride. Instead, give the clinic a call/check them out online/check their reviews. Expect them to:
This way you know they are regulated by strict standards. CQC is a bit like Ofsted, but for medical services – it covers both the NHS and private clinics and they are inspected regularly. BY LAW they need to adhere to safety standards. Cosmetic clinics don’t have to be signed up to the CQC – but then you don’t know whether they are of a high safety standard. All medical clinics (i.e. general dermatology, mole checks, minor ops) are required to be registered with the CQC by law. If they’re not, avoid them and report them.
A lot of private dermatologists only do their private work once or twice a week. Make sure their calendar fits with yours because you don’t want to be waiting a long time for test results/follow up appointments.
If you’re getting a mole check, sounds obvious but make sure it is with a doctor. There are clinics who use nurses and whilst some have a lot of experience, largely the nurses need to take images for a consultant to review. This delays the reassurance you’re looking for – and delays any biopsies (if needed).
A private dermatology appointment is a relatively low-cost medical service (in comparison to the likes of orthopaedics) so many people decide to self-fund – avoiding excess payments. Most clinics can invoice insurers directly, but not all consultants are covered. It tends to be consultants with the higher fees that are not covered because of insurer cost-caps.
A good dermatologist will know their limits and will use their peers to find the best treatment for you. For example, whilst all dermatologists treat skin, hair, and nails, there are some who are hyper-specialised in things like hair disorders, or skin cancer.
The good ones will know that it can be daunting booking in for private medical care – regardless of whether it is because you’re worried about skin cancer, have a breakout that won’t go, or simply need some skincare advice. Choose a clinic that feels right for you and who you know will spend the time listening to all your dermatological needs.
There are some amazing dermatologists on Harley Street, but you can pretty much rent a room as long as you’re from a medical background. You’ll notice a lot of the buildings have 100’s of brass plaques on the outside. With so many people in one place it can be difficult to determine who is good. And just because they are on Harley Street doesn’t mean they have been through a vetting process. Do your own homework.
I hope this helps you choose the right dermatologist for your skin. If you want to know more, drop me an email at email@example.com. I have been working in private healthcare for 15 years and I’m happy to help signpost you where I can (and that doesn’t mean just to our clinic if it’s not the right place for you).
Good skin days, always.
No. 23 Skin