I had never planned to work in private healthcare – before starting my nursing training I was fed up of the meaningless nature of private sector work and wanted nothing more than to work for the NHS, but things don’t always go to plan, as I soon found out.
It was whilst I was working as a Registered Nurse in health screening that my wife, also a Registered Nurse and Midwife, became seriously ill following childbirth and needed an urgent set of tests for a rare adrenal tumour. Despite the urgency of the situation the turnaround time of the tests through the NHS was an unwelcome six weeks or more which we both found soul destroying.
We were resigned to wait through a very nerve-wracking 2 months , but then a GP that I knew through some health screening work, Dr Graham Johnson, suggested that he could refer us to the private lab that he used for emigration medicals. The cost was about a hundred and fity pounds, but we were amazed that the turnaround time was only 5 working days.
We discussed the possibility of private testing with our NHS specialist who confirmed that he would be pleased to accept the results of a private test from an accredited laboratory, especially if it meant that results were ready much much sooner.
We were able to send blood and urine samples by post the next day, and the results were sent to our Specialist, who called us in for a consultation. Dopamine levels were very very high, but as the results were back we were then able to attend for a series of nuclear medicine tests significantly quicker than if we had waited the full 2 months.
I realised that in this situation, my knowing Dr Johnson was the key to being able to request private tests, and I wondered how useful having access to private blood tests would be to others without the necessary contacts in healthcare. How many other people are worrying unnecessarily and for too long, when most tests could be carried out in a matter of days privately.
I worked together with Dr Johnson and my wife to create the processes, procedures and necessary safeguards to offer this as a UK wide service, and in 2009 we founded Blue Horizon Medicals, initially as a postal blood test service.
Seven years on, in 2016, Blue Horizon still offers the postal service, but we can now also refer private patients to London, Nuffield, Spire, and BMI hospitals for blood tests as well as offering a service in Canada. With the service now available to over 100 million people, my vision is huge, aiming to give over one billion people access to private pathology testing by 2020, and making it accessible to anyone with an internet connection by 2025, no matter where they are in the world.
In the meantime, on the home front, my wife is still having annual dopamine tests which remain inexplicably high. We don’t know what our future will bring, and my wife and I are no longer on the nursing register, but we are glad that as Blue Horizon Medicals continues to grow we will be making a positive difference in the future of many families around the world.