Frequently Asked Questions
How do I book an appointment?
What can I expect at an appointment?
When you arrive at the Three Shires Hospital the reception staff will greet you and provide you with registration forms, which you are required to check and complete. They will then direct you to the relevant waiting room area. The consultant or nurse will come to collect you from the waiting area.
It would be advisable to attend 10-15 minutes earlier than the appointment time in order to complete paperwork and other relevant pre-appointment requirements. Your consultant may have requested that X-rays are taken prior to seeing you (depending upon the referral details).
What happens if I am a new patient?
You may have referred yourself or have been referred by your GP/Physiotherapist. The consultant will discuss your relevant problem and enquire about your medical history. A thorough examination will then follow.
The consultant may request further investigations to assist in a diagnosis; X-rays, MRI scans, Ultrasound scans and blood tests can be performed at the Three Shires Hospital. Scans need to be booked and therefore cannot be guaranteed to happen on the same day.
Your consultant may have requested that X-rays are taken prior to seeing you (depending upon the referral details). If you have had previous scans or X-rays related to your condition, please bring these along to all your consultations. Please also bring any copies of letters from your GP or other specialists. Previous X-rays and Scans from the Three Shires Hospital will already be on the system for viewing.
What happens if I need a follow up?
If a follow up consultation or further investigations are required the consultant will indicate this.
Telephone numbers for the BMI Three Shires in Northampton are:
The consultant will write to your GP and any other referring professionals, who will be continuing your care. The letter will summarise your consultation and the planned investigations. A copy is also sent to you for your records.
At the follow up consultation the consultant will discuss with you the results of your investigations. He will recommend the most appropriate treatment for your condition. This is a good opportunity to ask any relevant questions regarding your condition and ongoing care.
If surgery is needed, the consultant will explain the details of the procedure to you and what to expect afterwards. The discussion will detail the aims of the surgery and the potential problems or complications that could be encountered.
What happens if I need an operation?
If an operation is needed, we will arrange this for you via the Three Shires Hospital.
A pre-admission medical review will be arranged to ensure that you are fit enough for the planned surgery.
Once admitted and settled in your room, a nurse will confirm your identity and place a wristband on you. Some baseline observations (pulse, blood pressure etc) will be recorded and the nurse will be able to answer any questions you have about your hospital stay.
Your consultant will visit you before your operation and will ask you to sign a consent form for the procedure. He will also mark the surgical area as part of the standard safety check procedure.
The consultant anaesthetist will need time with you before your operation to inform you about your anaesthetic and to check your health. Surgery can be undertaken under local, regional or general anaesthesia. You should discuss this with your surgeon and anaesthetist.
What if I need an Anaesthetic?
Our consultants can perform only small or minor procedures using local anaesthesia in the outpatient department. More complex procedures and those requiring a general or spinal anaesthetic will require admission to hospital.
A date will be arranged for you to attend a pre-admission clinic where medical assessments and other necessary tests can be carried out to ensure that you are fit for surgery.
Prior to your operation you will be reviewed by a highly qualified consultant anaesthetist who will explain the anaesthetic process to you and discus the most appropriate type of anaesthetic for your procedure.
How long will I be in hospital?
This depends upon the procedure you are having. The majority of arthroscopic cases are performed on a day-case basis and will not usually require an overnight stay. Some of our operating lists are in the evening, in which case you may need to stay overnight, depending on how you feel.
More major surgery will usually require a few nights in hospital. Usually patients who have had hip or knee replacements will spend 2 to 3 nights in hospital – although some patients go home the next day and some need to stay a little longer.
Before going home it is essential that your wound is dry and you understand and are managing all of your physiotherapy exercises.
What happens if I need a plaster or dressing?
The Three Shires Hospital has plastering and dressing facilities in the outpatient department. Plaster changes and wound checks are carried out by our skilled nurses and plaster technicians, in conjunction with your consultant.
We recommend that you consult your insurance company regarding cover for the plaster casts, dressings, splints, slings, boots and braces. This will help you to avoid any excess fees.
When Can I Drive again?
This is very much dependant on what procedure you have had performed. To be able to drive you should be able to walk “normally” and comfortably. The final assessment and decision on your fitness to drive, rests with the DVLA and not with your consultant.
As a rough guide it would be reasonable to return to driving 7 days after smaller procedures, such as knee arthroscopy and at least 6 weeks after joint replacement surgery.
When Can I Fly again?
There are no set rules on when it is safe to fly following surgery.
We would advise against any long-haul flights within 3 months of more major surgery (especially joint replacements), due to the increased risks of DVT and Pulmonary Embolism. When you do fly, it is important to keep as mobile as you can on the flight, stay well hydrated, avoid alcohol and use compression “flight” stockings.
Most airlines will not allow you to fly if you have a full cast in place – due to potential problems with swelling and excess pressure that may arise.
It is advisable to consult your airline and travel insurance company directly if you have any concerns.
What about Fees & Payment?
An estimate of consultation fees and costs of other investigations or surgery are available on request. The figures quoted are always guide prices and are based on the information provided by the patient.
In 2016, the outpatient consultation fees are as follows:
New patient consultation £180
Follow up appointment £100
The majority of medical insurers request a referral from your GP or other specialist before agreeing to cover costs. We strongly advise you to contact them prior to your first appointment to clarify what your policy covers and to ensure they will authorise your claim. If they raise any objections or queries, please contact your consultant’s secretary.
Our consultants are recognised by all the major Insurance companies.
Please be aware that you will be liable for any costs incurred that are not covered by your insurance company. Please check the fine print of your Private insurance contract for “excess payments” on your policy.
I am self-paying – when will I have to pay?
Fees for outpatient consultations may be paid at the time of your consultation (by cheque or cash). If you have not paid at the time of the consultation you will receive an invoice from us. This may be paid by cheque or by Direct BACS transfer.
For surgical procedures, fees are payable to the Three Shires Hospital prior to admission.
If you are a Private patient, the Three Shires Hospital will take a copy of your credit or debit card details to cover any potential costs incurred by the hospital. These details are not passed on to your consultant or his team and cannot be used to settle any payments due to them – consultation fees will need to be paid separately.
Can I refer myself to the clinic?
You may refer yourself to a clinic – although it is preferable to have a letter from your GP or other healthcare professional detailing your problem and any other significant past medical history.
If you are insured and have referred yourself, please contact your medical insurer as they do not routinely cover the cost of your care if you have not been referred by your GP or another specialist.