In this day and age, we are able to see and speak to friends on the other side of the world without getting on an airplane. We are able to put a full days work in without getting out of our pajamas or leaving the house. We can research any subject almost endlessly without opening a book. It is the age of technology so why is it important for executives from the St. Thomas – Elgin General Hospital (STEGH) to fly to Singapore and the UK? And why was it important for representatives from the city to fly to China and Japan?
Apparently this is such a good idea that the St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce is following in the airplane seats of the mayor by organizing a trip to China this fall. To be fair to the Chamber of Commerce, they are asking those wanting to join the tour, and it appears to be open to anyone, to actually pay their own way! What a unique and wonderful idea.
Getting away for a week or so on a companies or organizations dime is not an uncommon thing, many executives believe it is a perk of their position. Three or four day all inclusive retreats are common place for a lot of large companies. At least these are not disguised as a working trip.
If the executive members of STEGH wish to learn more about the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK and the concerns and decline it is experiencing, why not simply use this new fangled thing called the internet? A simply click onto the British Broadcasting Companies‘ (BBC) website reveals a mountain of reports, protests and cutbacks that would indicate to anyone with experience of health care, or a brain, that the once vaunted NHS is a shell of it’s former self. Why else would private organizations such as BUPA provide insurance for those wanting to ‘go private’ and pay for a surgery, rather than being placed on a two year waiting list for a knee replacement?
People may complain about waiting times at emergency wards and walk in clinics, but with STEGH being declared the lowest in the province, obviously the hospital is doing something laudable and right. Was this process discovered on a visit to an emergency ward in the UK or did someone with common sense make a few suggestions that streamlined the visit?
If the president of the United States can order a military action, half way across the world from the White House, is there any real need to travel to see the results in person? Likewise, what is to stop executives calling their counterparts in the UK on a conference call to find out what is going right or wrong with their NHS? What is to be gained for seeing first hand the process? When visiting dignitaries come to a company, does anyone really think that before hand the offices are cleaned up, desks are tidied and all effort is made to make the office look as if it is running efficiently rather than it’s usual easy going style? If you want to discover what is happening with the NHS, you need to experience it first hand, show up at an emergency ward with a broken leg, or some other injury. You can talk to the support groups of patients, they all have websites, or you can simply watch the BBC to see how many hospitals are closing each year.
If you want to know what services a hospital offers, simply view their website. The University Hospital of Wales is a 42 year old teaching hospital that is still going strong and even looking to remodel and expand. How difficult would it be to contact an executive or two and discuss what they have done right and wrong over the years?
Of course, when on a conference call, there is no need to visit tourist spots or eat at fancy restaurants. Shopping doesn’t really make much sense if you don’t leave the city or country.
When you are paid at least a six figure salary, surely you can afford to pay your own way on these research trips? If you are making public statements about how committed you are to the hospital, put your money where your mouth is. Don’t claim for breakfast, lunch and supper. Use your own credit card to book and pay for flights and hotels, at least you will pick up the airmiles. It would show a skeptical public that you are not just taking advantage of your position.
It is important to note that the executives of STEGH do have their salaries linked to the performance of the hospital. Five percent of their salary rests on the ability of the hospital to be as efficient as possible. At $100,000, five percent is a whopping $5,000. For most, an extra $5,000 is the difference between owning a house and living in your car, but if you are being paid $100,000 it really shouldn’t have that much of an impact unless you are pretty poor at money management.
Just think, if executives don’t factor in the 5% into their salary, if the hospital does badly, there is nothing lost but if the hospital excels, the extra money could pay for a trip to the UK or even China.