This page covers everything you need to know before visiting us for an appointment, including what to bring with you, what to expect during a consultation and your rights and responsibilities as a patient. This information can also be viewed as a pdf and printed here.
Office: Mon-Fri 9:00 – 17:00
Appointments: Tuesday – Friday, 08:50 – 16:10
Doctors and staff:
Dr Marcus Lewis MA MBBS MRCGP DFSRH DRCOG (m)
Dr Jud Pearson MBChB MRCS MRCGP (f)
Dr Nazeli Manukyan MD MRCP MRCGP (f)
Dr Ulrike Sauer MFSRH (f)
Prof Paul Booton BSc(hons), MB, BS, FRCP, MRCGP (m)
Chief Executive: Heather Sim (f)
Medical Director: Giles Elrington MD (m)
What service does the National Migraine Centre provide?
The National Migraine Centre (NMC) charity headache clinic provides access to a team of doctors with a specialist interest in the management of migraine and other headaches. We offer appointments by prior arrangement for patients from across the UK and abroad.
We are also an active research centre and conduct both independent studies and clinical drug trials. You may be given the opportunity to try new treatments in a clinical study. Migraine clinic patients can volunteer to take part in current or future trials, but there is no obligation and our care for you is not affected in any way.
The Centre is a renowned teaching centre. You may be asked if a visiting specialist doctor, GP, nurse or student could sit in on your consultation. Please let us know if you would prefer for this not to happen.
We also carry out two procedures at NMC: Occipital Nerve Blocks and Botox, although these are usually carried out as an advanced part of our care pathway so are highly unlikely during your first appointment.
How much does it cost?
Patients coming on a donation-basis:
The National Migraine Centre is an independent medical charity. We do not receive NHS or government funding and are dependent on your financial support. We will therefore be asking UK patients (with an NHS number) for a donation. The cost to the charity for providing a first consultation is £200. We ask those that can afford it to kindly donate to cover this cost however those unable to we ask to give as much as they can in order to keep the service running.
Please do not feel embarassed if you are unable to cover the cost of your care, you can help us in other ways such as helping us to raise awareness, holding a fundraising event or spreading out your donations with a small monthly gift to the charity.
You can pay by cash, cheque, credit or debit card following your consultation.
If you or a member of your household are a tax payer please allow us to ‘Gift Aid’ your donation. That way the tax man contributes an extra 25 pence for each pound you give us.
Patients coming to us privately:
If you have private healthcare insurance or you wish to come to the Centre purely for the purpose of getting prescribed an electrical device you will need to pay the fees of £300 (initial consultation) or £200 (follow-up) upfront on the day of your appointment.
Patients with healthcare cover will see our Medical Director, Consultant Neurologist Dr Giles Elrington. We will then give you a receipt to send on to your insurance company and be reimbursed.
You will need to have sought a referral to NMC from your GP and an authorisation code from the insurer prior to your appointment. Please inform reception when you book your appointment if you wish to be seen privately.
We encourage anyone with cover to please use it, as the income gained from private patients is what keeps the charity afloat. Unlike seeing a neurologist in a private practice, where your fees go directly into the Consultant’s pocket, coming to National Migraine Centre will mean that you are helping other migraine sufferers to receive our support. Not only that, you are seeing Dr Giles Elrington, one of the world’s leading headache experts.
Patients from overseas :
The above fees (£300 and £200) apply to anyone coming for an appointment from outside of the UK. Although unlike insurance patients you may be booked to see any of our specialists. Again, the fee must be paid in full on the day of your appointment.
Occasionally doctors recommends procedures such as Botox or Nerve Blocks to be carried out during an appointment. As the clinic incurs a fixed cost for these treatments, you will be charged an additional fee if you choose to go ahead.
Consultation & Botox injections: £615 (1st appointment) £515 (follow-up)
Consultation & Occipital Nerve Block: £350 (1st appointment) £250 (follow-up)
Are your doctors qualified?
All our medical staff are fully qualified doctors with a specialist interest in headache and are registered with the UK’s General Medical Council. Our doctors provide expertise on various specialist areas including: neurology, women’s health and ophthalmology. You will be assigned to one doctor who you will usually see at each of your visits. If, for any reason, you would prefer to see a different doctor at a future visit, please let us know.
How do I make an appointment?
There are two ways for you to make an appointment:
Please telephone the Centre to make an appointment. We will ask you for your name, address, telephone number. Alternatively, you can complete this online form with your contact details and we will call you back. We will need your personal and GP details in order to register you as a patient.
b) Doctor referral
Ask to be referred by your physician who will write a letter with a brief description of your relevant headache/medical history. If you have other illnesses or a complicated headache history we would prefer you to be referred by your doctor who can give us information about you.
What will happen during my appointment?
Your first visit is a long appointment. This gives the doctor plenty of time to take a detailed history of your migraines and general health and to review headache diaries you may have kept. You will have a brief examination by the doctor, which usually includes a neurological examination. You will not usually be required to undress. An individual treatment plan will be devised for you and discussed with you.
After your first appointment, we will write a medical report with full details on your diagnosis, recommended drug and non-drug treatment strategies, which may include diet, exercise and complementary therapies.You will be sent a copy of this report.
We recommend that you take the report to your doctor to prescribe any necessary medications for you.
Since there are no specific tests for most types of headaches, brain scans and further investigations are not normally required if a diagnosis is clear. Should they be necessary, we will advise this in our report to your doctor, who can organise these locally for you.
A follow up appointment will include a review of your diary cards and an assessment of how you are coping with your migraine. Your management strategy may be revised if necessary. A handwritten report will be produced for your GP and a copy sent to you.
We always try to ensure that the Centre runs on time, but this cannot be guaranteed. Please help us by arriving on time.
What doctor should I see, do I have a choice?
You have the right to say which headache specialist you’d like to see, although reception are trained to match you to the most appropriate practioner, so the more information you give on booking, the better. We will always try to give you your choice, but there may be good reasons why you can’t see your preferred doctor. For follow-ups we will always endeavour to keep you with the same person.
How many visits do I need?
After your first appointment we usually offer a follow-up appointment around 3 months later, although this does vary depending on diagnosis, frequency of headaches and individual treatment plans.
After this, your doctor will offer further follow-up appointments only if you and the doctor think it is appropriate. You may call the centre at any time to arrange a follow-up appointment if this becomes necessary.
Do you offer phone consultations?
Some doctors offer existing patients follow-up consultations by phone (first consultations are always carried out face-to-face). Please discuss this with reception if you prefer to have an appointment in this way. Phone consultations have a set fee for all patients of £100 and are booked as a 20 minute appointment.
What should I bring with me?
Please bring your headache diary (download the template here). The doctor will need to know how many different headaches you have, roughly how old you were when they started, so you may want to make some notes to bring with you. Please also bring a list of current and previous treatments and medications, if you can. We willalso need your GP’s name, address and telephone number.
Why should I keep a headache diary?
Diary cards provide a great deal of relevant information about your headaches, particularly how often you get them, how long they last and what your symptoms are. They are also valuable in assisting the doctor with diagnosis, assessing trigger factors and assessing the effectiveness of treatments.
If you are able to come to the centre with diary information at your first visit this will help the doctor to help you. You will be asked to continue with these until your next visit.
Where are you located?
The National Migraine Centre is located in central London at 22 Charterhouse Square, near Barbican and Farringdon stations. Directions and public transport guides are included in your your appointment confirmation letter and further details are available here.
What if I have special needs?
We are situated in a listed building with a number of stairs so if this is a problem for you, please telephone in advance of your appointment. Likewise, if you have any other special needs, please discuss these requirements with us and we will do our very best to help you.
What happens if I need emergency or out-of-hours assistance?
National Migraine Centre is not an emergency service and only provides pre-booked appointments for non-urgent consultations. You have a number of options if you feel you need short-notice or emergency care:
a) Your local GP surgery
b) If you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency call NHS Direct on 111or visit http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/
c) For emergencies visit your local Accident & Emergency Department
d) For life threatening medical emergencies call 999
How do I obtain a repeat prescription?
Most medications we suggest are recommended to your GP and it is them who will write the prescription fo you. However when prescriptions are written by our staff, these can be repeated following a request in writing by email or post. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note there will be a charge to cover the admin involved. We do not dispense medications from NMC.
As a patient, what are my rights and responsibilities?
You have the right to:
- have your treatment explained to you
- refuse to be treated in front of any visiting trainee
- expect all practice personnel to maintain appropriate levels of confidentiality when dealing with your medical records
You have the responsibility to:
- make and keep appropriate your appointments, notifying the surgery – at least 1week in advance if you are unable to keep a booking.
- at all times, behave in an acceptable manner towards staff and other NMC users
- inform the practice promptly of any changes of address, name, telephone contact number(s) or gift aid eligibility
What if I am late or cannot attend my appointment?
Each appointment costs us money, time and resources to put on. Therefore when patients do not attend their appointments without warning or with very little notice, the centre loses money and other potential patients lose out on an appointment. Therefore we ask that you please give as much notice as possible (preferably 48 hours) so that we can try and fill your appointment. If you do miss an appointment without any warning on more than one occasion, we reserve the right to charge you the cost of your appointment up front when you book the next one. Our doctor’s time is valuable and precautions like this are necessary to make sure we are still here to help migraneurs in the future.
If you turn up late for your appointment, the doctor will do their best to see you, but it may mean you have to wait. If their schedule is fully booked, you may have to rebook to attend another day.
How do I make a suggestion or complaint?
With your help the National Migraine Centre will ensure that its services are of the highest quality at all times. We would like to know when we are getting things right and when we don’t.
You can help us by telling us if:-
- We have done something wrong.
- We haven’t done something we should have done.
- We have done something really well.
- You feel you have been treated badly or unfairly.
- You think we could change things for the better.
We are committed to involving service users and we want to hear your views – to enable us to provide services that meet your needs. If you have a comment or suggestion that could improve the way the Centre runs, pass it on to the Chief Executive. We have a box in reception to post comments if you prefer.
We are also keen to listen to the views of other people such as friends, relatives, other representatives and statutory authorities.
As a service user of the National Migraine Centre you have the right to:-
- Complain about the quality or nature of the service you receive.
- Challenge any changes or decisions that you don’t agree with.
- To be supported and represented by someone of your choice, at any stage, when making a complaint.
- Know that your complaint will be dealt with, sensitively and confidentially.
- Ask that someone else carries out the investigation, other than the nominated person.
- Take your problems to an independent body such as your local authority social services department, the Care Quality Commission, or the Charity Commision.
What do I do? If you have a complaint, talk to reception or any other member of staff. If you prefer, you could ask a friend or relative to speak on your behalf.
What happens if I complain? There are two stages to the complaints procedure. If possible we will sort your complaint out informally and quickly on the spot. If we can’t, we will investigate the complaint and let you know the outcome. This is the first stage.
If you are not happy with the result you can contact the Chair of the Trustees who will oversee a further investigation. This is the second stage.
You can ask a representative to support you, or to speak on your behalf, at any stage of the procedure.
How long will it take? We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 48 hours, Ideally we will be able to sort out complaints as they arise, but if we can’t we will contact you, at each stage, within 28 days – in writing.
You also have 28 days, at each stage, to take your complaint further if you wish.
Do I have to give my name? We will always investigate anonymous complaints, but they are harder to deal with and resolve satisfactorily. If you give your name we will respect your confidentiality. Only those who need to know about your complaint will be told.
Useful addresses We like to sort out problems within the organisation if we can, however you have the right to contact an independent body if you feel you views have not been heard. Here are some useful contacts:
Care Quality Commission
03000 61 61 61
Complete the online form here to report concerns
Violence and Abuse
The Centre has a zero tolerance policy in regards to all forms of abusive and threatening behaviour. This includes, swearing, racial or sexual comments, verbal / physical threats, violence of any kind, towards staff or other patients.
We have the right to care for patients without fear of being verbally or physically abused. Anyone who is found to be threatening or abusive to any member of staff or other persons may be at risk of being removed from our Patient List. All instances of threats and physical abuse will be reported to the police. In extreme circumstances the police will be called to remove the offender/s from the premises.
If a patient’s actions warrants a removal from the Patient List the patient will be notified in writing.
Patients can apply to access their medical records. Formal applications for access must be in writing and accompanied by the appropriate fee. Requests should be made through Reception.
Confidentiality and Medical records
The Centre complies with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Access to Health Records Act.
Doctors and staff at NMC require access to your medical records to enable them to do their jobs. From time to time information may be shared with others involved in your care if it is necessary. Anyone with access to your record is properly trained in confidentiality issues and is governed by both a legal and contractual duty to keep your details private.
In some circumstances we may be required by law to release your details to statutory or other official bodies, for example if a court order is presented, or in the case of public health issues. In other circumstances you may be required to give written consent before information is released – such as for medical reports for insurance, solicitors, etc.
Where can I get general information about migraine?
You can get lots of helpful information about living with migraine and links to other migraine sites from the resources section of our website.