Clinica London reaching 12 years old is a big event for me personally and for Clinica London; the team, our patients, the referring doctors and optometrists. A big thank you to all for making this happen! We are still here and planning to grow with new services and doctors as we enter our “teenage” years in 2023.
A clinic´s success depends not only on the original idea and concept but the execution and realisation by the team which is constantly growing and bringing in new people and new ideas in order to better what we provide.
I had always wanted to create a private clinic, at a time when this was quite a new concept in the UK but I had seen my colleagues in North America and Europe build clinics and wondered at doing the same in London.
Clinica London started as a small eye clinic on the first and second floors of 140 Harley Street in December 2010. At that stage I was the only consultant working part time in the NHS and part time at Clinica. I recall Anne Kingham the Clinic manager sitting up on the second floor with a small camping table and laptop and cardboard boxes around her, as we opened the clinic, before we had all our equipment, and well before we even thought of having a nurse, a technician and more doctors.
However, at that time, I knew that I wanted to create a small eye clinic in Harley Street where there would be time to see patients properly and provide them with the best possible care. I wanted to build it to have eight ophthalmic consultants or thereabouts, so that we would cover all the sub-specialities. We didn´t have any particular need or want to cover laser refractive surgery because there were already many clinics in London doing laser refractive surgery, including one very successful clinic next door, who we greatly admired, called the London Vision Clinic.
As an oculoplastic surgeon I have always kept up my general ophthalmology both in the NHS and now privately and have had a very balanced view towards providing ophthalmic services. We therefore wrote a business plan, gradually bought diagnostic equipment, obtained contracts with the private medical insurance companies and grew. We passed our first Care Quality Commission inspection in 2011 and were given the green light to care for children and adults, and to do treatments and surgery on site.
Growing means having new Consultants to cover medical retina, then to cover glaucoma and cataract, and subsequently paediatric ophthalmology, neuro-ophthalmology, cornea and ocular surface, and continuing with dry eye and wet watery eyes. Together with all the urgent eye care problems, with red eyes, sore eyes, sticky eyes, flashing lights, all the things that frighten people about their eyes as they are either uncomfortable, look awful or their vision is affected, we were able to provide suitable consultants to cover their needs.
Somehow in the middle of all of this we realised that dermatology was very close to ophthalmology. Since Laura Crawley´s sister, Jennifer Crawley, was a dermatologist just arrived in London as a new Consultant at University College Hospital, we invited her to join us to help build up the dermatology service at Clinica London.
We were very fortunate as well to be able to build up the retinal care service which initially had just two consultants; Professor Michel Michaelides who is a very well known inherited retina specialist worldwide, and who is creating advances in gene therapy for many medical retinal inherited conditions.
We were able to invite Evgenia Anikina who I had known at the Western Eye Hospital and Charing Cross where I had been a consultant and she had been a trainee. I saw immediately her potential and waited for her to get a definitive consultant post in Reading and to build her family before she was to come and join us as the vitreo-retinal surgeon. She was rapidly joined by Julian Robins, also a vitreo-retinal surgeon. They both do cataract surgery as well as vitreo-retinal surgery and medical retina. In total we have four retinal consultants who all do medical retina and two of them do surgical retina.
Paediatric Ophthalmology has been one of the subjects dear to my heart because I did a fellowship in paediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus as well as in Oculoplastics, and have always looked after children. It is was a delight to have Naz Raoof decide to have all her private practice at Clinica London, for paediatric Ophthalmology and neuro-ophthalmology. She looks after all the strabismus (squints), children´s vision and challenging neurology patients, together with her team of three orthoptists.
With COVID 19 came a rush of patients afterwards with sore dry eyes and problems with their vision, bought on by a change in lifestyle and stress I suspect. Sajjad Ahmad our corneal, external eye and ocular surface consultant, provides invaluable advice and reassurance to hundreds of our patients, as well as treating young adults with keratoconus by corneal cross linking. Saj is world famous in his field of cornea and it is wonderful to have his opinion for many patients with truly difficult to resolve red inflamed eyes, or with blurred or reduced vision.
We did not ever want to be labelled as being an aesthetic clinic but wanted to become known for being a strong medically based clinic with the best ophthalmic and dermatology consultants to care for general and specialist eye and skin problems in children in adults.
However, we have always had a small aesthetic side to Clinica London, where we do skin tightening treatments, fillers and anti-wrinkle injections, eyelid oculoplastic lifting surgery and give advice on skin care, mainly for our existing patients who are interested to look and feel better.
Next year as Clinica London becomes a “teenager” we are expanding into this area more with a new Dermatology Nurse and the Optilight IPL M22 and the ResurFX non-ablative laser to be enable the Dermatologists and the Oculoplastic surgeon to remove skin lesions and resurface skin for our patients.
I would definitely say “do it”, expect to have a few years with lack of sleep, financial worry but still unending enthusiasm to make the clinic work and to provide the best possible service in beautiful calm surroundings. Running a private clinic really gives the opportunity to see what the patient wants, listen to them, and then act on it without so many layers of permission having to be obtained. However we are aware that we are a private clinic and there is no NHS to bale us out, so we have to run a tight ship with the best advice from accountants, lawyers, HR, and keeping well up to date in all the sub-specialities.
What has been the nicest thing about running the clinic is seeing people come back year after year. They may go away for a few years, but come back and they bring their grandparents, their parents, their children, their brothers and sisters, and we find that we are looking after the whole family, both for their eyes and dermatology, from age zero to 18 years, 18 to 65 years and over 65 years to close to 100 years old.
It is very satisfying that Clinica London is still here and we continue to grow and enjoy positive changes that help us do better for out patients.
This year, because we are aged 12 years old and we had changed a lot over that time, we decided to strengthen our branding with the help of Allies Design. It is almost the same logo, but stronger and still encompassing perfection, delicateness, beauty, calm, and presence, all of which are features of Clinica London and our philosophy.
Take a look at our photos below, our logos, when the builders were in, after we opened and now 2022, and our new logo branding.
My Consulting Room as we moved in December 2010, no pictures on the walls yet, courtesy of Jerry Bailey, copyright Architect: