Thursday 30th January – 11am – my old office at Loughborough Road
So, this blog is a little bit like when Radio 5 Live links up to the World Service and both of those channels broadcast simultaneously (although, only a little bit).
This is both the Cube blog and my standard blog in the same place for one time only.
For those who read the standard stuff, you might not be aware that every Sunday night since last March I have been writing a blog about moving my practice and tonight was to be the last one.
I’d always thought that it would go out simultaneously with the normal blog.
Sadly though, things never go quite to plan and this is not quite the blog that I was expecting to be writing when I wrote last week’s cube blog about running into the last week at the old practice.
So here it goes…
Monday afternoon I was working from home after an early shift and my phone rang and it was Hayley (on Mat leave).
But first, let’s go back to April last year.
For some time we had been investigating what we had to do as far as the CQC were concerned in relocating a practice to a new site. Last April we had communication with the CQC and we were advised from someone there that when we moved into our new site we would then have to inform them of the change and they would inspect us while we were working there.
We’re an outstanding CQC provider and I have never had a single issue with them in 7 years.
So, being diligent (as we try to be) my acting Practice Manager (Lynne) in Hayley’s absence contacted the CQC last Monday, just to get the forms and things we would need so that we could inform them of the change immediately on opening the following week.
Lynne was told that neither of the information that we had been given was correct and that the process had been changed along with any other number of reasons why we would not be registered and that we would not be able to open and that was that.
All hell broke loose as you can imagine, in a week that for years I had thought would be one of the highlights of my practising life.
From Monday afternoon only Hayley, Lynne and I knew about this and Hayley and Lynne worked into the night to complete forms for the CQC to be submitted the following day.
We were advised to write an email to senior management, but it is fair to say that almost every single person we touched at the CQC was vile, horrible and completely unhelpful and totally not understanding of our circumstances.
The overall organisation’s attitude of the people that we had spoken to was one of total distain for what would happen to all of the patients that would not be able to be seen.
They did not give a s***.
We were then told to email senior management which was done that day (Monday) and then told that there would be a 5 day wait time for a response from senior management for an urgent query.
As I write this, we still receive nothing back.
So, for the moment I will be a little bit vague about the people who have helped, but I will big them up and tell you all about the wonderful things they did later, when I am allowed.
I was able to contact someone with some influence in this sphere of regulation at CQC, whom I do not know.
It turns out that this individual knew of stuff that I had done in the past and thought it was quite cool and was delighted to try and help.
The problem is, the CQC is such a vast organisation with departments spread in all different places, that not one person talks to another and the “organisational drag” is legendary and staggering.
At the moment we sit here wondering whether it might be 3 months before we are approved to provide clinical work at the new site.
Pick the bones out of that. Sort that one out in your last week of operation!
So, began a heart breaking 48 hours as I watched my team pack up everything in the clinic ready to finish on Wednesday at lunch time.
I saw my “last patient” at 17:30 on Tuesday night and no one could understand why I found it difficult to rustle up any celebration.
I went in on Wednesday morning (as we were building furniture at the new site) and everyone was buzzing to wait until the clinical session had finished before I could get the team together to tell them what had happened.
I had to do this in splits because some were at the new site and some were at the old site, but the majority were at our original place on Loughborough Road.
I am the one who has cried on stage at the British Dental Conference in front of a thousand people talking to them about my GDC case and I promise you, the Wednesday was harder than that.
But, here’s the thing…
I have always tried to protect my team and always tried to look after them as best I could, to help them grow and succeed and to be fair or as fair as I could.
I would stand in front of them and take a bullet wherever it came from to protect them because that is my job.
I have been asked to speak about that and what that is like in different places before and I always explain that by saying “the leader protects the tribe, but in the end the tribe protects the leader” and so it was.
Speaking this into a Dictaphone now to ask Marie to type it and it is hard to say.
To watch how they responded and how they reacted was quite extraordinary, Louise took the clinical team one way and got to work with reconditioning Loughborough Road. Carl, Sharon and Lynne got together with everybody in the reception team and got onto patients to reschedule, rearrange and apologise.
Hayley took charge of the new site and everything that was going on there (that was all still kicking off) and I jumped between all three. The first priority was patient safety – secured immediately. Second was patient comfort, experience and convenience – secured. Third was operational, dentists in the right place, team in the right place – sorted, the next part was telling everybody and making sure that everybody knew what was going on – immediately sorted.
After that it was time to try and get back to building furniture while writing a Master Class for the dentists who are coming in on Friday (31stJanuary, we can still teach and do admin in the building).
The latest news that we have is that we might get CQC registration through by the end of next week, but we are not holding our breaths.
The worst-case scenario is the end of April.
It was dark Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday, but Hayley and I spoke on Wednesday afternoon and I told the builders to push back because we wouldn’t need the building for clinical use for at least another week. At this point it is fair to say that these guys have been extraordinary and they were delighted because all that they’re interested in doing is giving me the most extraordinary product in the best possible condition and now they feel that the pressure is off and they will be able to deliver that by next week.
We will look back and I guess this will work out for the best, because when patients do get here, it will be perfect and not stretched tight for a finish line that had already been delayed.
1 or 2 patients might drop off the board because they are annoyed, 1 or 2 dentists may get fed up (I guess). Hayley and I have decided to go back to first principles.
We’re here for the patients and for the safety of the patients for a hundred years.
Next week doesn’t matter, not in the long term and neither does next month.
As long as people are safe and the care is good and we work together as a team like we have done this week, we will be good.
God knows there have been twists and turns in this project and then some but I did not expect this (but that is how twists and turns go).
I am still here today and ready to go again and I will take that, today, tomorrow and all the days that come afterwards.
To finish though, a little bit of inspiration.
I wrote a blog about the movie JoJo Rabbit, which marked me recently when I went with cinema club, you can read the blog here.
There is a German Poet featured in the film called Rainer Maria Rilke.
After Stuart and I left the film we both searched out this guy as we were so touched by the film itself and Stuart sent me a poem by Rilke (it is not in the film) but just as beautiful, all the same.
When I watched our team pulling together through the disappointment of this week and so many of them reminded me of this… It is always at its darkest before the dawn, life always has a way of pushing you right to the edge and then bringing you back, if it is tough for you right now, then perhaps this poem will bring you some peace, the way it has brought peace to me.
Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.
In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.
And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.
February 1st - 11am – my new office at Edwalton Business Park
Two hours after I wrote the previous words I was at the new site. Everyone was going about their business, building furniture and getting things done with the air of what i’d told the staff the day before hanging over us. I went to find Hayley in the admin section of upstairs. Marie told me she was speaking to the CQC in the kitchen… heart stops, for a while at least.
I went to the kitchen to find Lynne and Hayley on speakerphone to the CQC so I left them to it. When I came back they told me that our CQC Area Manager had contacted us to help and it turned out she was a human being.
She explained that we had been given the wrong information several times over and that it would be completely unreasonable for us not to open and to damage our business and affect the care of our patients.
She assured us that she would push the CQC transfer across as quickly as possible and would inspect us pretty much as soon as we wanted.
So, in we went to the academy space to tell half the team (the other half were at Loughborough Road trying to rearrange patients and recommission the place for clinical work the following week) the good news that we were not actually fugitives to the law!
I phoned Loughborough Road and asked Louise, our Clinical Lead, to tell the rest of the team so that everybody knew. But the patients already knew and our plans for transfer of the place were completely disrupted and rewritten so, with that in mind, we felt it was wise to run another week at Loughborough Road.
It never worked out as being the week we thought it would be – of fanfares, ticker tape, banners and celebrations.
It was work, but with quiet satisfaction that we were now moving in the right direction.
In hindsight, it would have been hard work to be ready for that Monday anyway.
One of the sad bits was that we ran the Master Class on Friday in the Academy space for 23 delegates. On a personal level this was quite an extraordinary experience which ended with quite an extraordinary gesture for me and my family from the team which I will perhaps write about later, but I couldn’t share that with everyone because half of the team were still at the other site.
Still, it feels much better on Saturday than it did on Monday.
If you’re ever thinking about taking something like this on, it would perhaps be wise to come and see me first!