Frequently Asked Questions

We hope you’ll find all the information you need on the Reading Foot & Ankle Unit here on our website. Please see below for answers to a number of frequently asked questions. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please call us on 0118 922 6903 and we’ll be happy to assist you further.

How do I book an appointment?

Please visit our appointments page where you’ll find details on how to book an appointment with the Reading Foot & Ankle Unit.

Do I need a GP referral?

No, it’s possible to seek private treatment from a consultant or specialist without being referred by your GP. However, the British Medical Association (BMA) believes that, in most cases, it is best practice for patients to be referred for specialist treatment by their GP. Also, If you are insured, your insurance company may require you to be referred by your GP (please check with your chosen insurer).

Can my physiotherapist refer me?

As above.

Why do I need to complete a ‘patient enquiry form’?

The ‘patient enquiry form’ collects together all the essential information that the hospital and surgeon will require in order to safely and efficiently deal with your particular issue. You can also provide these details to one of our secretaries over the phone on 0845 388 6102.

Will my health insurance company cover all costs and fees?

Health insurance companies reimburse (to a greater or lesser extent) the costs of your treatment which can arise from the hospital, the surgeon and the anaesthetist. The amount of reimbursement will vary between insurance companies and between types of policy. It is essential that you clarify with your insurer what they will or will not cover before embarking on treatment.

Insurance companies do not cover the cost of the orthotics but generally cover the initial consultation and gait analysis. This is dependent on your level of cover and excess and it is important to ensure this prior to treatment. All invoices are your responsibility if costs cannot be retrieved from your insurance company.

What are your fees?

It is now mandatory that all ‘providers’ of healthcare make their fees available to all patients. The fees that will apply will depend on whether you have health insurance or are funding the consultation and / or surgery yourself. Any such fees – hospital, surgeon and (potentially) anaesthetist – will all be sent to you before your first appointment

Why should I come to the RFAU?

Our consultants have many years combined experience dealing with the whole spectrum of foot and ankle conditions and injuries. The outcomes of all their major operations are recorded on national registries and all are actively involved in ongoing local and national research audit projects.

We can offer you a convenient appointment in a state of the art facility and organise any investigations or therapies promptly with local recommended experts.

Where is the RFAU based?

The Reading Foot & Ankle Unit is primarily based at Circle Hospital in Reading, but some of our consultants also work at Spire Dunedin and Berkshire Independent Hospitals (both also in Reading). Between the consultants they have clinics on most days of the week. Please call us for more information.

​Do the hospitals have parking facilities?

Yes all hospitals have free onsite parking although (as with most sites in Reading) it can get busy and you are advised to arrive early to allow for any potential delays.

​On average, how long does it take to get an appointment?

Generally new patients are seen within a week of contact.

Will I need an X-ray?

Most foot & ankle problems and injuries require an X-ray to be taken. If you have not had one recently or it is not available to the surgeon you may be asked to attend 30 minutes before your appointment time to get one done as you arrive at the hospital.

What is an MRI scan?

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body/knee. It is particularly good for the ‘soft tissue’ parts of the knee – menisci, ligaments and the articular cartilage (joint surface).

An MRI scanner is a large tube that contains powerful magnets. You lie inside the tube during the scan and will be able to talk to the radiographer through an intercom. The scan will last between 15 and 90 minutes.

However, not everyone can have an MRI scan and they are not always possible for people who have certain types of implants fitted, such as a pacemaker.

Is it important where I have my MRI scan?

Today most MRI scanners produce images that are of good quality but it is important that the correct sequences (picture set up) are performed for each joint and that these images are interpreted by a consultant radiologist (X-ray doctor) who specialises in such Orthopaedic images. The advantage of having the MRI scan done within Reading is that a good working relationship already exists with our Radiologists and these images will be interpreted by someone with appropriate expertise.

I am claustrophobic and cannot have a normal MRI. What other options are there?

An MRI scan is a painless and safe procedure but you may find it uncomfortable if you have claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces). Most people find this to be manageable with reassurance but if not, a referral to a specialised ‘open’ MRI scanner can be made. call you to discuss, write to you or a further appointment…

What happens following my MRI scan?

Your consultant will call you to discuss the result on the phone, write to you, or (more usually) a further appointment will be made in a couple of weeks to both review and discuss the results of the scan.

How long does it take to get an MRI scan?

It is usually arranged within a few days of your consultation at a time suitable for you. If you haven’t already done so, you will need to call your medical health insurer for authorisation beforehand. The fee for the MRI scan is sent from the hospital and this is separate from the consultant’s fee.

How long does it take to get the results after an MRI scan?

It can take a week or longer for us to get the final result.

Can I fly after surgery?

It is generally recommended to wait at least four to six weeks to fly after any lower limb surgery. It may be possible to fly on short-haul or domestic flights at an earlier time, but you should always check with your GP or surgeon. (Note: Always consult your doctor, your health insurance provider and the airline you are flying with before making your flight reservation)

Should I come off HRT / Contraceptive pill before surgery?

Patients on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill are advised to discontinue taking them 4 weeks before surgery to reduce the risk of post-operative blood clots. However, minor procedures may not require you to do so; check with your GP or surgeon.

Do I need to stop smoking before surgery?

Smokers have a higher rate of complications after surgery than non-smokers including poor wound and bone healing, Infection and less satisfactory final outcomes of surgery.
You can improve your chances for a successful outcome after surgery if you are a non-smoker or have stopped smoking. Studies have shown that smoking cessation four to six weeks prior and post-surgery decreases the postoperative complications; we would strongly advise you to do so.