Pass The Rescue Remedy, Please!

Among the English Heritage blue plaques in Harley Street is one dedicated to the prominent Victorian and Edwardian surgeon Sir Frederick Treves (1853 to 1923) who charged the maximum treatment fee of 100 guineas in the 1890s. He is credited with performing the first appendectomy in England on June 29th 1888 (a useful bit of trivia should you ever find yourself needing it on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”) and of saving King Edward V11’s life when he suffered an appendicitis just before his coronation. Today Sir Frederick Treves is probably best known for his friendship with Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man.

Other famous residents include Florence Nightingale who was “Superintendent of the Establishment of Gentlewomen” at Number 1 Harley Street in 1853. And anyone who, like me, reaches for the Rescue Remedy in times of stress and anxiety will also be interested to know that Dr Edward Bach worked in Harley Street as a specialist in vaccines and bacteriology in the 1920s before moving to the Homeopathic Hospital and developing his Bach Flower remedies.

So despite all the inevitable challenges thrown up by creating a state of the art laser eye treatment clinic in a building surrounded by such history, it seems only right and proper that this highly specialist and pioneering work should have such a prestigious address. Before the move, I asked Craig Engelfried how important he believed it to be it for the London Vision Clinic – which rightly prides itself on its professionalism and excellence – to be based in Harley Street?

“It’s not the reason we chose these premises”, he explained. “We have been very happy here in Devonshire Place – no, I don’t think it’s crucial. I think it’s a:  ‘nice to have’ not a ‘need to have’.”

That said he admitted that the new address does have a certain caché for visitors around the world. However, ultimately – despite the cost and constraints of converting and refurbishing a “listed” building – it all comes down to practicalities in the end.

“What is important is that Harley Street is very centrally located and it is easy for patients to get to – that’s the biggest advantage”, he explained. ”It would be much more difficult for our patients if we were on the outskirts of town somewhere.”

So perhaps not so very much has changed after all since the 18th century physicians chose to settle in Harley Street for its solid prestigious buildings and handy train connections … it’s still location, location, location.

However, one can only imagine the amazement with which those early doctors – squinting through their pinz nez – would have viewed the Laser Eye Surgery phenomenon and the pioneering work carried out by Prof Dan Reinstein and his team.  Far from turning in their graves, I am sure that they would have been in respectful awe of the LVC work and would recognise and applaud the team’s uncompromising belief in providing unsurpassed standards of care for their patients.

Those early physicians would, without doubt, welcome the London Vision Clinic as worthy neighbours across the years.

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