Interview with Jasmin Parmar, Senior TMS Therapist
When did you start offering TMS?
“At the recommendation of a colleague, we added TMS in 2018 as a treatment option for depression. TMS is a way for us to add more choices for the patients, as it provides a viable option to patients who are either treatment-resistant to pharmaceuticals or who do not tolerate the side effects of antidepressants.”
When asked about how people find out about Phoenix Mental Health Services, it really is “a mixture of things. Some people hear about TMS in the news or read about it and search for the nearest clinic, where they then find us. We also advertise on our social media platforms and clinicians may refer their patients. Phoenix Mental Health Services also has a dedicated phone line where you can speak to the TMS Therapist who will answer any questions one may have.”
Which results have you seen for your patients and how have they responded?
“We have seen positive results for the patients we have treated so far.” Aside from the actual treatment results, the patients have also responded very positively, especially when it comes to how they feel about the actual treatment; “They are often worried about the potential pain they may experience during treatment, but we have a procedure that works very well at reassuring them. We demonstrate a pulse on them, so they have an idea of what it will feel and sound like. By doing this, we can slowly ease them through the treatment.”
Today, TMS is still not a widespread treatment option in the UK for depression patients. Why do you think that is?
“The primary reason is that to date, TMS has only to a very limited degree been taken up by the NHS. It is therefore not seen as mainstream by the general public. Many people also find it hard to accept the concept of TMS and what happens in the brain which results in the treating of major depressive disorder. Also, having a disorder such as depression is a very sensitive topic and we understand that many people prefer not to talk about it publicly. We also believe that cost is a huge factor; to our knowledge, there is currently only one insurance company that covers TMS therapy. Otherwise, patients have to fund it themselves. Patients are, however, able to use their insurance to pay for the appointments with the consultant as that is part of their normal cover.”
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your practice?
“Our practice continued running throughout the pandemic as we were able to move over to remote consultations. With regards to our TMS clinic, we had to close it once lockdown was announced because we wanted to keep our staff and patients safe during the pandemic. We re-opened in the middle of June and felt ready for it. We made sure that we had the correct safety measures in place to ensure a clean and safe environment and PPE for our TMS therapist. However, with all that being said, we can still offer an appointment with the consultant psychiatrist in the same time frame as prior to the pandemic and can start treatment very quickly after that,” ends Jasmin Parmar.