Dr Martin Watson travelled from north-east Scotland to the Birmingham Prostate Clinic for treatment. He describes the new model of healthcare that made this possible and why he chose BPC.

Dr Martin Watson Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

“I had been suffering from BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate) for several years. On Boxing Day, I reached a crisis point. I went into acute urinary retention and by the following day, I was taken in an ambulance to A&E.

With medication after some weeks, I was able to void again without a catheter but had a consultation with a urologist to discuss the next steps. I am fortunate to have medical insurance and saw a local consultant privately. But my wife and I both felt intuitively that we would like a second opinion. So I went online to research the whole area and find an alternative. What appealed to me about Birmingham Prostate Clinic and Alan Doherty was that it seemed to offer a more personalised approach and access to cutting edge investigations.

There was also the challenge of geography: I am a university lecturer and academic professional development specialist working part time in Scotland, so living between Scotland and the Midlands. I asked the Birmingham Prostate Clinic whether it would be possible to have an initial discussion with Mr Doherty by telephone, rather than travelling down from Scotland. Mr Doherty was willing to do this and together with the information I sent him in advance, we had a very helpful conversation, establishing that it would be okay to wait until June before I travelled down to Birmingham. We also agreed I would have PSA tests in Scotland and send down the results.

I immediately felt confident that I had made the right choice in Mr Doherty and that geography was no barrier; travelling from Scotland to Birmingham was fine because I had identified the person I wanted to manage my treatment. In June, I had a number of tests in order to rule out the possibility of prostate cancer. The clinic team went out of their way to organise the investigations on the same day whenever possible, to minimise my journeys from Scotland or in the Midlands to Birmingham.

I had the genetics based PCA3 test, an enhanced MRI scan and a template (fusion) biopsy. It seemed to me a marker of the quality of the service that these cutting edge assessments are available at the clinic. The MRI scan showed a shadow or nodule and so a biopsy was required. I was impressed that it was a ‘mapped’ biopsy, rather than a traditional biopsy which seems a bit of a needle in a haystack approach.

There was great relief when the biopsy confirmed no cancer and the consultation moved to the issue of my BPH and I asked whether GreenLight laser surgery might be appropriate. This was one of the real positives of the Birmingham Prostate clinics that: Mr Doherty allowed me to raise the questions and all the way through my treatment, I had a significant voice in how we would move forward.

Mr Doherty explained that he gets very good results by doing a ‘trim’ TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate) for the last ten minutes after the Green Light surgery. I was a bit surprised: I had read about laser surgery being the less invasive option and TURP the ‘older’ approach, but I felt very confident in Mr Doherty and what he had learnt from experience. Because my prostate was particularly large, I was likely to need a trim TURP at the end of my operation, to restore urinary flow really effectively with long term durability.

I had my operation at the beginning of August. Once again, the team at BPC were flexible in meeting my needs, bringing it forward so I could have more recovery time before the academic term began in September.

I spent one night in hospital and left the following day after lunch. I didn’t have any significant pain at any point; there was only need for over the counter pain-killers and anti- biotics and I had far less discomfort than I had expected. I rested for a week and within two to four weeks, I was fully back to normal, able to do all the activities I did before and any minor effects of surgery had abated.