I don’t think I need to preface this post by telling you how important our health is. Let’s assume we all know it’s VERY IMPORTANT. The most important thing, really. But it can be hard to know how healthy we really are.
Of course I know on any given day if I do/don’t have a headache/sore throat and if I am/am not moving enough but it always feels like an assumption: “I look ok and I am still getting my work done, therefore I am ok”.
I am one of those dreadful people who likes to Google things so I’ll regularly worry my minor headache is in fact a terminal illness, but at the same time I’m not one to pester GPs. I have to KNOW I’m ill before I’ll politely ask if maybe I can have just a tiny prescription (if it’s not too much trouble, sorry to bother you) so that my eyes stop bleeding, or whathaveyou.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. Meet a doctor at a party and conversation quickly changes… “oh so you went to Mallorca this summer! Did you have good weather? Where did you stay exactly? And can I just whip off my top so you can check this mole on my back?”. We all want reassurance.
And this is why the concept of private “health assessments” or “MOTs” have always allured me. I ruddy LOVE the idea of an hour with a doctor examining me and checking all the things that I would never want to “bother” my GP with. Dedicated time FOR ME, where I can chat through anything from stress to diet to exercise to aches and pains…as well as discuss all things preventative medicine, rather than leaving things too late.
I should point out that I *adore* the NHS, I’m the only member of my family not employed by them so I know how hard our doctors and nurses are working under tighter and tighter constraints, but the appeal of a private health check has always appealed to me. I’d known a few people who had had them (funded by private healthcare through work, generally) and two of my friends had received shocking results which demanded pretty immediate attention. Both of them thought they were just run down and stressed with work, one of them was actually quite seriously ill. (Aware this might sound like scaremongering, they are a lot better now – thankfully! The intervention couldn’t have come soon enough).
So when I was asked if I would like to try a “360 Health Assessment” with Nuffield Health (I’m currently doing their Healthy Weight Programme, you can read about my blog post on that here) I jumped at the chance. I’d actually asked for a similar health assessment from my husband as a wedding present but he’d said a) it was morbid and that b) the bride doesn’t get a present (fair enough in hindsight).
An appointment was set and a few weeks ago I trundled along to their Paddington branch with my healthiest looking face and a note scribbled on my hand to DEFINITELY NOT HAVE STARBUCKS ON THE WAY because I was fasting for blood tests. In the week leading up to it I’d filled in a pretty lengthy medical history and lifestyle questionnaire, which you really do need to complete in advance to make the most of the appointment.
My first impressions when I arrived was that the area where the doctors are was more like a spa then a medical setting. Soothing lighting, nice (current!) mags and bowls of fruit in the waiting area, a full gym and gorgeous pool next door. I don’t get nervous around medical settings, but if you did I think you’d massively appreciate the chilled atmosphere.
I started with an hour’s appointment with a physiologist, getting the blood tests out of the way first so that I could then have something to eat (which they provided, this is where I discovered nakd bars by the way – OMG HOW GOOD ARE NAKD BARS?!) and so that the samples could start to be analysed. I didn’t expect them to crack straight on with the analysis, but this is definitely one of the best things about the assessment as it meant that by the time I saw the doctor she already had my results.
We went over all sorts of things in that first physiologist hour, doing everything from a digital spinal assessment to a resting ECG to a lung function test. I felt like I was on an episode of Horizon as I was wired up to things (nothing painful or even remotely uncomfortable, I should add!) and blew into tubes. I also had my urine tested and the more ‘standard’ readings like height, weight, blood pressure and so on. One of the most interesting tests I thought was the assessment for physiological resilience to stressors, as I do worry that simple things feel a bit knackering sometimes. There was a very thorough body fat percentage test as well which I’ve always wanted to have done, although my results made me realise I should have perhaps been less excited! (I think I’d been hoping to find out that I really was big boned and, quelle surprise, I’m not).
Awesomely, for most of my examinations in that hour I had the results there and then so we could discuss them. The blood and urine analysis was left for the doctor, but everything else we were able to chat about and make sure I understood. I could see where I was at and where I should be ideally, as well as talk about what changes I need to make to get there. There was a lot of chatting about my questionnaire results too and just general advice for some of the things I’d raised in my pre-assessment notes.
Next came my hour with the doctor, although I ended up being in there for even longer than that in the end. (Yeah I’m quite chatty once I get started!). In this hour we talked about everything in more depth, as well as go over the blood and urine analysis results, and we went further into my family medical history and the things I’d highlighted as a cause for concern before the appointment. I also had a breast examination (along with guidance for how to do my own, a habit I really MUST get into), head to toe check-over (including looking at moles) and I would have had a smear and pelvic examination but I had already had one with healthy results within the last couple of months so it would have been fairly pointless. I was given the option though.
I really liked that there was a focus on emotional wellbeing too. Of course all the key health concerns such as diabetes, cancer risk and heart health were all covered, but the mental health aspect was there too and this is crucially important.
Even once it was over and we were at the point where I felt like I’d talked about everything AND THEN SOME, I was still asked if I had anything more to discuss. It was a faultless customer experience. Two and a half hours of being completely centre of attention, as opposed to seven minutes. The staff didn’t know I was there to blog about it either, so any cynicism can be swept aside in that sense!
Whilst I got the bulk of results there and then, a highly detailed report came through two weeks later. This had every result you could imagine, as well as everything you’d need to make sense of the results in plain English. I think this is a really thought out way of doing it, you get the preliminary results whilst you’re still there so anything that’s flagged can be discussed, but then you get the in depth full-on version later to digest in your own time at home.
The best news was that nothing too alarming cropped up and I had re-assurance on some issues that have been niggling in the back of my mind. I did get a few amber flags which need addressing and a couple of “DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW” red flags (apparently we shouldn’t be 40% body fat, who knew?) but overall I have come away reassured by the experience and more motivated than ever to shed some of that fat I’m lovingly carrying around as if it’s a personal friend.
There are various health assessments that Nuffield Health provide, with less in depth ones and more in depth ones available. Mine was obviously tailored to the fact I’m a woman, but male patients have specific additional tests too.
Prices start from £249 and I’ve kindly been given a 15% off discount to share – thank you Nuffield Health! – if you’re tempted to book one. You can find more info on pricing and exactly what tests each assessment type includes from the links on this page and then to claim the discount you just need to call 0333 220 4493 and quote “Health Check 15” or visit the Nuffield Health website.
I think it’s next week or the week after that I’ll be half way through my Healthy Weight Programme so I’ll be blogging an update then. Here’s hoping I’m well on the way to lowering that body fat percentage though – eeeeeeeep! I certainly feel a lot better for the changes I’ve made.
Thanks again Nuffield Health for letting me try the service!
I was invited to review this service by Nuffield Health, but I was not paid to write this review and I retain all editorial control. You can read more about how I work with brands here 🙂