We welcome referrals to the National Migraine Centre. Many of our patients are referred by their GP; however, many referrals are also from Occupational Health doctors, Neurologists, Gynaecologists and other doctors who see patients with headache.
Nurses are also welcome to refer their patients.
We also accept patients without a GP referral. This makes it easier for patients to be seen and lessens the burden on GPs. Even when patients have self-referred we work closely with their GPs and send them reports following every appointment unless the patient requests otherwise.
Here are the most frequently asked questions from doctors about why and how to refer patients to The National Migraine Centre. We hope that these will tell you everything you need to know. If you have any other questions please telephone us on 020 7251 3322.
- What service does the National Migraine Centre provide?
National Migraine Centre – a registered medical charity with more than 33 years experience – provides access to a team of doctors with a specialist interest in the management of migraine and other headaches, including cluster headaches. We offer outpatient appointments by prior arrangement. We welcome all patients from across the UK and abroad.
Research into the causes and better management of migraine and other headaches is also undertaken. Standard treatments for migraine as defined by the International Headache Society have resulted from studies undertaken at the National Migraine Centre. We continue to study drug and non-drug treatments for migraine at the Clinic in peer reviewed clinical trials. Patients may be given the opportunity to try new treatments in a clinical study. We ask all our patients to consider taking part in current or future trials, but there is no obligation and our care is not affected in any way.
The Clinic is a renowned teaching centre. Visiting specialist doctors, GPs, nurses and students often have the opportunity to sit in on consultations. The Clinic also trains year-2 and year-4 medical students of Barts and The London Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry and we supervise year-4 medical students on their dissertations on migraine. In addition many lectures are given to the medical community as well as the lay public.
- Who can be referred?
Patients from any part of the British Isles can be seen as long as they are eligible for hospital referral under NHS regulations. We are also happy to treat any patients who wish to be seen privately. No charge is made to the referring GP. However, as we are a medical charity we ask patients to cover the cost to the charity for providing a consultation. Click here for more information on patient fees.
Although most of our patients live in London and the Home Counties, patients come from all over the world.
- How much does it cost?
There is no charge for referring doctors or any other NHS body. However, patients are asked to cover the cost of their appointment. Click here for more information on patient fees.
- Are your doctors qualified?
All our specialists are fully qualified doctors with a specialist interest in migraine and 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. Patients will be assigned to one doctor who they will usually see at each of their visits.
- Why would I refer my patients to the Clinic?
We recognise that most GPs are confident about managing migraine and headache and feel no need to refer to a specialist clinic, unless medication is ineffective or the diagnosis is uncertain.
However, there is little time in a GP consultation to give patients an in-depth account of all potential migraine triggers. Such advice can be of enormous advantage to the patient — research shows that identifying and avoiding triggers can more than halve the frequency of attacks. Furthermore attack therapy is most effective when tailored to individual requirements — often depending on information obtained from the patient’s diary of attacks.
All the doctors working at the clinic have a specialist interest in migraine and headache and are happy to see any patient with suspected migraine or cluster headache — not just the difficult cases. The doctors have time to discuss with each patient all aspects of their headaches and treatment.
You can hear some of our patient success stories here.
- How to refer?
A doctor’s referral letter should be sent to the centre and an appointment will be sent directly to the patient. Please provide a daytime telephone number for the patient.
A referral letter is also requested for private patients, unless they are resident outside the UK.
- Can patients self-refer?
We accept patients who self-refer although encourage them to inform their GP that they are attending the clinic. A report will be sent to the GP unless the patient specifically requests otherwise.
- How does a consultation work?
In the first – 40 minute – consultation a full medical history is taken from each new patient before they are examined. Once the diagnosis has been established, our doctor discusses management regimes with the patient and writes a full report to his/her GP/Doctor. The Clinic doctors work closely with GPs. It is at the discretion of the GP to prescribe any suggested medications, as the National Migraine Centre is unable to issue NHS prescriptions. Some of the drugs we recommend for migraine and cluster headache are not licensed for these conditions, but our strategies are in line with the British Association for the Study of Headache’s Guidelines. However, recommendations are usually minimal — our aim is to help patients understand their migraine, often finding non-medicinal ways of reducing the frequency of attacks, although effective attack therapy is always necessary.
Since there are no specific tests for most types of headache, brain scans and further investigations are not normally required if a diagnosis is clear. If we consider that such investigations would be of advantage to the patient we will suggest this in our report to the GP, who can organise them locally, as the Clinic is unable to do this.
Patients are usually invited to a follow-up appointment, which lasts for 20 minutes. During this follow-up the management strategy may be revised if necessary. A handwritten report will be given to the patient for the GP.
Please note that prescriptions and referrals can be made directly by the centre for private patients.
- Where are you located?
The National Migraine Centre is located in central London at 22 Charterhouse Square, near Barbican and Farringdon tube stations.Details about how to get to the Clinic are available on our website at the contact us page.
- Where can I get further information about how to treat headache patients?
Our website provides general information on migraine and other headaches and their possible treatments. A number of references to publications on migraine are also provided. In addition you will find links to national and international migraine sites with information that may be of use to medical professionals and patients.