Many people find the prospect of a consultation with a psychiatrist a daunting task, so I thought that I would write to inform you of the assessment process.
A psychiatrist differs from a psychologist in that we are medically qualified and so we are able to investigate any physical causes which may have an impact on mental health, and we are also able to prescribe medication (if warranted). The initial consultation usually takes about an hour, during which you can tell me about your symptoms and also what has gone wrong that may be contributing to the situation. I will need to ask you about your relationships, background and your upbringing, all of which usually has a bearing on your current circumstances. It is also useful to have a list of current medication.
People come to me with a wide range of problems encompassing; difficulties dealing with the process of life change, poor coping skills to negative life events, the consequences of childhood bullying or depravation, negative thinking styles or lack of self confidence as well as more major psychiatric disorders. Please do not feel stigmatised that you are asking for help.
I consult from a variety of locations (Dorking, Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, St Anthony’s Hospital Cheam and The Priory Hospital Roehampton) on different days of the week and I will usually offer an appointment at the closest clinic to you. If you wish to be seen in a different location, then let me know. I do not work in the evening. Follow-up appointments are usually 30 minutes - or one hour if needed.
If you wish to change an appointment please email me. My PA, Trudy deals with these matters for me and she also deals with all matters to do with insurance companies/invoice payments. Her hours of work are 9.15am to 4.45pm, Monday to Friday. It is also my home number for you to contact me in an emergency. I do not charge for missed appointments but if you are delayed coming to an appointment, or you are not going to attend, for any reason then, I would be grateful if you could let Trudy know, as soon as possible, so that I can use the time for other purposes.
Many patients have health insurance policies that cover my fees, if you have been referred by a General Practitioner, but you will need to check with them in advance, that you are covered. Please let Trudy know the details of your scheme, and then we can send the account directly to your insurance company for payment. You will be responsible for any shortfall. If you require a claim form completing, bring it with you to the appointment, if possible. There is no charge for completing it.
If your condition is more serious that requires in patient or day patient treatment, then I practice from The Priory Hospital Roehampton (www.priorygroup.com/roehampton) where I will supervise your treatment and whose charges can also be reimbursed by insurance company policies provided the treatment has been "pre-authorised".
My style of psychiatry is to enable people to use their own skills to help them overcome their current difficulties or past trauma, but also, to gain additional ways of dealing with future circumstances that could prove troublesome. I use a variety of therapists to help you with this task such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), Counselling, Anxiety Management Techniques, etc and I can recommend suitable therapists, whose fees can also be reclaimed from the insurance companies. Different insurance companies will reimburse different therapists and so it is important for me to know which scheme that you are with. I will contact the therapist directly, who will then contact you. They will normally keep me informed as to how the therapy is progressing.
It is usual for me to write to your GP with my opinion and I often dictate the letter whilst you are with me, to ensure that I have understood your situation. I do not routinely send you a copy of the GP letter, but you are welcome to have a copy of it, at any stage. Some people do not wish to have these types of personal details on their GP medical records, and if you do not, then let me know. However when medication is prescribed, then, in my opinion, it is very important that the GP knows about it, just in case it interacts with other medication that the GP might wish to prescribe. GP’s will often prescribe medication on my behalf, which may be considerably cheaper than dispensing a private prescription written by myself. Prescriptions written, by me, outside consultation time cost £20. If there are any problems with medication, or unexpected side effects, then please inform me, via Trudy, who will pass the message on to me, during the course of the day.
Please feel free to either e-mail me, or to write to me, if there are things that I need to know between appointments. Sometimes people find it helpful to write a summary, or jot down some of the important details and either send it to me before the consultation or bring it along with them, to make sure everything is covered or nothing is forgotten. I normally like to see patients alone, but if you wish a relative or friend to be in with us, then just ask.
I will do my very best to discuss the various treatment options with you, and to look at the "pros and cons" of each, so that your views are fully taken into account in your treatment. If you are unhappy with any aspects of your care, then let me know as soon as you can, so that they can be resolved as quickly as possible.
If you wish me to discuss your condition with either your family or others then I will need your written permission to enable me to do so.