What’s it like working in and around Harley Street

For centuries, the closest most people got to Harley Street was knowing the name of an aristocrat, celebrity, or some other well-to-do person who’d allegedly received treatment there.

Since the 19th century, the street has been known for providing world-class medical services to the mega-rich and ultra-elite classes. Florence Nightingale and Dr Edward Bach practised there, treating the likes of King George VI for his stammer and Stephen Hawking for motor neuron disease.

Today, however, your just as likely to encounter a builder being treated for a busted back on Harley Street as you are a monarch for their speech impediments. The area has evolved from being a specialised medical haven exclusively for the upper-classes to a diverse, affordable — and of equally high-quality — medical hub for everyman and his dog.

That’s some transformation — exactly how big of which you can get an idea of by the numbers. In 1860, there were only 20 doctors on Harley Street. A little over 50 years later, there were ten times that many. Today, there’s over 2000.

To no one has this shift been more apparent than the staff who work on the street, day in and day out. They are the eye surgeons, chiropractors, plastic surgeons, gastroenterologists, ENT surgeons, cardiologists, orthodontists, psychiatrists, allergy specialists, dermatologists, and innumerable other world-class and highly-sought after medical specialists and practitioners who’ve kept Harley Steet going strong all this time.

Between them, they comprise the estimated 15000 practitioners and additional 3000 staff that work on Harley Street, delivering 100s if not 1000s of specialist treatments every single day.

They treat everyone from the lady down the street who needs special care for her hip, to stars such as singer Bonnie Tyler and TV host Phillip Schofield who need surgery for their degrading eyesight. There’s no denying the services on offer don’t still cost a pretty penny, but with healthy competition between businesses, many of which offer convenient payment options, treatments are much more affordable and within reach of the average person.

Whereas other streets and areas have evolved beyond their particular trade — such as Fleet Street or Saville Row — Harley Street has only become more prominent within the medical landscape. In particular, it is now known as the Laser Eye Surgery hub of the world, boasting a higher concentration of clinics than any other area.

One Harley Street name from the Laser Eye Surgery world is Professor Dan Reinstein. Prof Reinstein is a Peruvian-born Laser Eye Surgeon and Professor of Ophthalmology who, in 2002, moved to the area to start his own clinic, the London Vision Clinic.

As a pioneer in the field with a CV longer than the average book, Prof Reinstein is a leading voice on Laser Eye Surgery and has appeared as an expert everywhere from BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and BBC Radio 4 to Extreme Makeover UK, 10 Years Younger, and publications like The Times.

While Prof Reinstein has more hours in the chair than most other doctors in the world, he still manages to find time to live much a normal life outside the clinic. He plays the saxophone at his local jazz club, goes to the gym, spends time with his wife and three kids, and, to ensure he stays at the top of his game, regularly attends and contributes to professional meetings, journals, books, and everything else Laser Eye Surgery.

And so it goes for many other professionals who practice on Harley Street. By day, they are superheroes, changing the lives of patients one surgery or treatment at a time. But by night, they go home and tend to their families like everyone else. A dedication to top-notch medical care has clearly been the driving force behind the legs of this infamous street, but it wouldn’t be anywhere without the passionate and caring individuals at its heart.