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a blog by Chris Barrow


After publishing yesterday's blog post on day #1 of lockdown, I took my turn at the new solo dog-walking regime and walked through an eerily quiet Hale village. A few early morning runners, cyclists and optimistic shoppers; tradespeople in vans on their way to work.

In the distance, the rumble of traffic on the M56, which usually heralds the early morning commuter rush from Cheshire into Central Manchester. That confused me - maybe just lots of HGVs as the supply chain functions?

That was my last trip out of the front door; the rest of my day was down in The Bunker on

  • a series of 15 individual telephone/Zoom calls with clients (more calls on Thursday) to drastically reduce my fees for the foreseeable future and explain my plans to support them. I'm stripping my fees back to survival mode to help my clients but to support my team - like many of my clients, I'll be living off savings and "eating last"

  • a webinar rehearsal for this evening's 90-minute session for Croydon Dental Seminars (Leadership & Management during the Covid-19 Crisis)

  • The Daily Briefing with Sarah Buxton from FTA Law absolutely smashing it out of the park, answering questions on the furlough scheme

  • Trying (not very successfully) to cope with the tsunami of emails, messages, posts and other digital comms

  • Wondering when I'll ever be able to return to my "ordinary" business task list, frozen for over a week now

My Bunker Day started at 05:00 and ended at 18:30, leaving me mentally banjaxed and ready for a 40-minute session on the Wattbike, watching Season 2, episode 1 of "Altered Carbon".

Then time to catch up with Annie (you know where, so I'm not going to mention it again), a late dinner and the TV news.

So it wasn't until the end of the day when I realised that "lockdown" clearly isn't working in some areas of the country and in some people's minds. Images of a crowded Underground and BBQs in the park horrified me. As I watched a recording of yesterday's briefing, I ended up even more confused about public movement.

It seems, therefore, that we can and must expect the Government to bring in even more stringent measures to make people "stay at home".

In dentistry, we wake this morning to

  • Increasing clarity about furlough (most of my clients have furloughed most of their team)

  • Confusion about loans for business as some are reporting feedback from banks that if you have assets you won't get support

  • Questions about how best to cope with patients who want to postpone or cancel dental plans

  • Continued uncertainty for self-employed associates, therapists and hygienists

  • Reports from dentists told that their children do not qualify as those of key workers for educational support

  • Fear - genuine fear - expressed by those whose family members are working at the NHS front line

Many I am speaking with are now getting seriously stuck in to professional and personal cash flow planning - re-engineering finances to get through this period.

Me too.

The title of today's post reflects some of the conversations I'm hearing about opposite ends of a moral compass.

On the negative side, I've heard some dentists explain how they intend to carry on delivering and/or completing high value treatment plans with a thinly-veiled excuse that they don't want to leave their patients with temporary work. Even though they don't have the appropriate protection. Come off it - it's about cash flow.

I'm no clinician and neither do I claim to occupy any moral high ground here - I'm just listening to scientists and politicians tell me that that I can kill people or be killed if I come into close contact with others.

Equally, I heard yesterday about elderly patients with health problems "demanding" to be seen - in one case at the practice front door asking to buy toothpaste.

We have a neighbour in his 70's with multiple and serious health problems who was spotted walking his dog no less than 5 times yesterday.

On the positive side, I've been moved by stories of financial support offered by Principals to team members and to self-employed clinicians. Tops ups to furlough payments, full pay for stay-behind volunteers, basic monthly stipends and interest-free loans to associates, therapists and hygienists.

I suspect I'll soon hear about dental team members volunteering.

Times like this can highlight the best in people as well as the worst and we have to cling to the former.

After this is all over


So make sure that your decisions are good ones.

Here goes with day #2 - I'll shower, dress, walk the dogs and then prepare for another whirlwind.

I hope to see you on today's Daily Briefing at 13:00 with a special guest.

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