Scariest time for business
The run-up to lockdown back in March was one of the scariest times we have ever experienced in our business history, much worse than the recession back in the early 1990s and the Great recession in 2008. In the 1990s we were running high street practices in Tunbridge wells and Tonbridge and the latter recession in Norfolk. We experienced a dip in bookings and for a while a shortage of new patients attending. However, we still had open clinics every day, just more coffee breaks than we really needed!
The arrival of Coronavirus in the UK was a completely different scenario, suddenly we were faced with the realisation that our patients could pose a major health risk to us as clinicians and we to them! Almost immediately we had some members of staff that had to self-isolate. One of our podiatrists just returned from visiting family in Spain and had developed anosmia (loss of taste and smell) This meant he had to isolate for 7 days but because he shares a house with another one of our podiatry team, that Podiatrist had to self-isolate for 14 days!
Keyworkers & PPE
Advice from our regulatory body (College of Podiatry) for us as ‘key workers’ was changing almost daily, it really was a struggle to keep up. Somehow we managed to stay as safe as possible, increasing our PPE to include a face visor, all other PPE we already used.
One of the most distressing effects was the drop off in bookings to virtual nil per day, our reception team was taking hundreds of calls and emails to cancel booked appointments, leaving our diary’s looking very poor! You can imagine how awful that felt after building up the business over the past 16 years here in Norfolk.
Open for Urgent care
In some ways, we were fortunate in being able to remain open during the lockdown in order to provide a service for people with urgent footcare needs or for those with underlying health conditions. It was a bit of a juggling act for our reception team now working from home but we have managed to provide at least one day a week in each town. We quickly learned to put things in place to protect our staff and our patients alike.
We are now able to treat any of our regular or new patients for routine issues so the days are gradually building up again and gradually our staff members are returning from being furloughed. Many thanks for the support and kind words of encouragement from our many lovely patients and those that were grateful for help when needed!