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a blog by Chris Barrow

A helluva day

Friday turned out to be one of the most unusual days I have enjoyed in UK dentistry. In the morning I was picked up from the Hilton at Edinburgh Airport and driven over to the new Royal Bank of Scotland head office at Gogarburn. Quite the most inspirational place I have visited for a long time and certainly THE most inspirational in the UK. The site was officially opened by the Queen in September last year and is now occupied by over 3,500 RBS employees who enjoy a working environment that is beautiful as well as holistically complete. The main office concourse is an atrium with food shops, restaurants, hairdressers, a cell-phone shop, a florist, a pharmacy etc either side (including a Starbucks!) and the premises include the only off-site campus for The Harvard Business School in the world.

The original Gogaburn House is now a fancy bistro and in a separate but equally beautful building is a complete well-being centre including pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam – a 2-storey gymnasium, fitness suites, a full staffed spa and, of course, a dental practice – hence my visit to review the set up and their patient journey. As I took a tour of the main premises I experienced that feeling of isolation as a self-employed business owner. I know that the grass appears greener – and I’m sure the people who work here have to play all of the political games associated with corporate advancement – but “wow” – what a place. As I struggle to find a schedule that allows fitness training and contemplate how simple it would be to work here every day, visit the gym, get fit and never even have to go outside to eat and shop. It was almost like being on the set of a sci-fi movie, visiting a self-contained society that occupies a walled city or an interstellar spacecraft. I have to admit a brief vision of The Dental Business School occupying a smaller but similar campus – rather like the Pankey Institute in Florida – maybe, just maybe.

Down to business – in spite of the beautiful surroundings my experience was of value to my client in reviewing his marketing (internal of course), his patient journey and the physical layout of his surgery. Later we drove into Edinburgh and visited the general practice he has owned for 16 years – quite the most idiosyncratic practice I have ever seen – but that’s confidential. Looking back to Thursday – after a hard work day in Bristol (see my previous blog), the Edinburgh crowd at the Dalmahoy were a much simpler task – largely because more of them had seen me before and were less shocked at my delivery! Same material but a much noisier day and lots of laughs – none more so than my afternoon presentation being interrupted by a Scottish piper playing just outside the window for a wedding party. I didn’t believe the suggestion that he was playing the Trinidad & Tobago national anthem but it was hard to maintain my concentration for a while there. Later, I settled down to watch the England game on a large TV screen provided by the Hilton in their lounge area. A turgid game that was enlivened by the 6 kilted Scotsmen sat behind us and throwing derogatory comments throughout the game. I’d like to thank Peter Crouch and Steve Gerrard for taking the wind out of their kilts in the last 15 minutes of the game. Its been a fabulous week.

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