Frequently asked questions

Where do I go?
Where will I see the Consultant?
How long will the appointment last?
What happens during the consultation?
What happens if I need an MRI/CT/X-ray/Injection?
What is an MRI?
What is A CT Scan?
What if I need an injection?
What if an operation is planned?
I am insured, what should I now tell my insurance company?
What are the fees and will I be covered by insurance?
I am paying for my treatment myself. Will I need to provide a credit card?
Who do I contact if I have problems after the operation? 
Outcome scores
 

 Where do I go?

For private appointments go to the main reception of the Spire Hospital in Bristol and they will direct you to the Outpatients Department. For Weston the private clinic is called  the Waterside Suite.

Please go to the hospitals page for directions  

 Where will I see the Consultant?

A nurse will show you to a seat near your Consultant's consulting room. He will call you into his consulting room when Mr Harding is ready to see you.

 How long will the appointment last?

If it’s your first appointment to see Mr Harding, the appointment will take approximately 30 minutes. This depends on the complexity of the problem and it may be necessary to send you for tests including xrays which will take longer depending on how busy the xray department is.

If you have to attend a follow-up appointment, this will last for approxiamately 15 minutes, again depending on the complexity.

 

 What happens during the consultation?

Mr Harding will take a full medical history from you and ask you about your current symptoms. In most cases he will perform an examination of your spine and limbs. It may therefore be useful to wear appropriate clothing if this is required.  

He will ask you questions about whether you take any medication or suffer from any illnesses. (It may be an idea to take your medication along or write down the name if you are taking any). Likewise, if you have an extensive previous medical history relating to your spine or any previous correspondence that you have (or imaging) it is always useful to bring it along.

Normally, the next stage is to go through any further investigation or treatment that may be required and then to organize this.

 What happens if I need an MRI/CT/X-ray/Injection?

Mr Harding will fill out a card for the X-ray Department, instructing them as to which investigation you require.

You can then make an appointment directly with the X-ray Department to pop back and have your scan, at a convenient time for you.

The results will be sent directly to Mr Harding within 7days of your scan. He will inform you when you need to make a follow up appointment and this can be made as soon as you have a date for your scan/injection.

 What is an MRI?

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a technique that has been used since the early 1980’s to get an internal picture of specified areas of the body.

The MRI scan uses magnetic and radio waves, meaning that there is no exposure to damaging forms of radiation.

You will lie in a large, cylinder shaped magnet that uses radio waves 10,000-30,000 times stronger than the earths magnetic field. The magnet sends differing radio waves through the tissues in the body to show up what types of tissues are present. As it does this, the particles in the cells of the tissues bounce. As they move back into their original place, they send out a radio wave of their own. A specialized computer then turns these waves of energy into a picture of the types of tissues present in the area of the body being scanned. Different types of tissues emit differing signal strengths, bones usually look dark on the scans and fatty tissues look much brighter.

The MRI scan provides such a detailed picture of your body, it is possible for your Consultant to see if there are any little growths or abnormalities in the area being scanned. As the MRI scan is like a very defined photograph of the internal workings of your body, if you need an operation your Consultant will then use your MRI scan to guide him to the correct area of the problem.

In the Spine, the MRI is useful at ruling out any serious underlying problems and looking at the discs, nerves and joints in your spine. It cannot show the position of the spine when you are standing up (which is very important) and so standing xrays are often needed for this.

 What is A CT Scan? 

A CT or CAT scan is a special type of xray. Much like an MRI scan, a specialised computer will collate the results from the different x-ray beams and create a picture of the density of your tissues in the form of a cross-section through your body. Beams that have passed through less dense tissue, such as the lungs, will be stronger, whereas beams that have passed through denser tissue such as bone, will be weaker.

In the spine CT is often used to evaluate the bony anatomy more clearly which is not seen well on an MRI.


 What if I need an injection?

This is usually done in the xray department by a radiologist  (usually Dr Watura, Dr Cobby, Dr Bradley or Dr Williams) although rarely Mr Harding does them himself in the operating theatre – it depends on the patient and the injection. The injections are used to help in confirming a diagnosis and often also help the patient. Diagnostic injections either numb an area or the spine e.g. facet joint, nerve root, pars defect with local anaesthetic – if this takes away your pain then it is likely to be the problem. Steroid is often also injected to help give a longer term benefit, although how long this works for is very variable. In one type of injection called a discogram, the aim is to identify a source of pain by injecting fluid into the disc and this may be (deliberately) uncomfortable and has no therapeutic benefit. It is for diagnosis only and if positive suggests the disc is the source of pain.

 What if an operation is planned?

The reasons will be clearly explained and if you are insured you will be given codes to hand to your insurance company. In most cases, Mr Harding will give you a date in the clinic. Sometimes it is necessary to go away and weigh up the pros and cons of surgery and then you can contact Emma with a decision thereafter.

If you decide to proceed with an intervention you will be asked to contact Emma, who will arrange your operation with you. At this point, Emma will ask whether you are insured or self-funded. If you are insured, please provide insurance details. In many cases you will be required to attend a pre-operative assessment and details will be sent to you regarding this. If you are not insured an exact cost for an inclusive package will be arranged.  

For details of individual operations please consult the Treatment page on this website

 What are the fees and will I be covered by insurance

Treatment fees vary depending on complexity of surgery, but in most cases insurance companies cover the costs. As a guideline, unless there is a prior agreement with the insurance company WPA rates are used for surgery to standardise costs. These fees have not increased or changed considerably in a number of years despite rising costs of providing private healthcare, including rising premiums, and are freely available online.

Consultation fees vary from £150 to £250. If you are insured your insurance company will be billed directly but you will be liable for any excess. Payment is expected within 30 days if you are liable and will be pursued. The hospital is independent of Mr Harding and any bill received by Mr Harding is independent of hospital charges. The hospital will swipe your card for any charges incurred by them but this will not cover Mr Harding's fee. Mr Harding operates independently from the hospital and pays charges to hospital for consulting and administration.

If you wish to pay via BACS then please use the following:

account name: Mr I J Harding
sort code: 40-47-58
a/c: 73893545



 
I am insured, what should I now tell my insurance company?

You should inform your insurance company (before you attend for a consultation) that you are planning to see a Consultant. Often, they will issue you with a claim form that you will need to fill out. It may be necessary to obtain a formal GP referral, although Mr Harding does not require this and is quite happy to see self referrals or contact your GP himself.

Some parts of a claim form may need to be completed by the Mr Harding. If this is the case, take it with you to your initial consultation or post it to Emma afterwards.

Insurance companies may also need other details such as the time and date of the operation, which implants are used and who the anaesthetist will be (normally Dr Richard Dell FRCA) and length of stay at the hospital. We can provide you with all this information.

 I am paying for my treatment myself. Will I need to provide a credit card?

Your Consultant will bill you directly to your home address. This invoice will be for his fee only. This invoice is payable by cheque to the Consultant. Send it to Madolyn who will then deal with your account. This is entirely independent of any previous dealings you may have had with the hospital or any previous financial details provided. Extra may be charged for further investigation or treatment in clinic. Besides Mr Harding's charge for this (e.g. an injection) the hospital will also bill for materials used.

If you have an operation, the hospital will collect the fees. This is called an ‘inclusive care package’. They will collect the full amount and pay the surgeon and anaesthetist on your behalf. One follow-up consultation is included in this price. Any subsequent consultations will be billed for.

 Who do I contact if I have problems after the operation?

You can contact the nurses at the hospital. Alternatively, you can call Madolyn (0117 973 4073), during working hours, who will either offer you a follow-up appointment, or if it’s an urgent issue, contact Mr Harding on your behalf to ask his advice.

Outcomes 


If you are having surgery, you will be given a patient related outcome questionnaire to complete. This is important to monitor your progress and give an overview of Mr Hardings practice overall. Data is collected and stored on the secure British Spine Registry. At intervals following treatment you will be contacted via email to complete further forms. Thank you for you help with this.