Deadlines – Ogyakrom versus developed countries

Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

Yesterday, I closed the door on two health workers who had applied to take part in our cervical cancer prevention programme scheduled to start on Monday, July 26, 2021. They were on our tentative list for training. After midday, when they had not confirmed payment, I took their names off our list and replaced them with two other health workers who were on standby.

Not long after I had done this, I got phone calls. One said she had paid but had not contacted us. The other said she was in the queue at the bank getting ready to pay. In fact, there were 6 health workers from the ‘institution’ that were given the opportunity to be part of the training group. One called that she could not afford it so her name was taken out earlier (very helpful for planning). Another payed last week. Then another beat the deadline, paying and alerting us in the morning yesterday.

For close to 3 weeks I had given them a notice about the deadline: 12 noon on Monday, July 12, 2021. I sent them reminders. After they could not beat the deadline and I replaced them, they contacted some people to beg me on their behalf to reinstate them. It was too late.

I have experienced this for many years in my practice. For over a decade, I prepared the theatre list for the Gynaecology Department in my hospital. At 12 noon on Tuesday, my lists for Wednesday and Thursday were out. If you were not on the list, you needed a ‘miracle’ to get on the list. The staff in the hospital knew this. They pushed their relatives and friends to beat the deadline.

These days the young doctors who prepare the theatre list are ‘flexible’. The staff in the hospital know this. There is no real deadline, so they can manipulate the system and get their friends and relatives in. Sometimes we see the theatre list for the next day after 8pm. That is surely going to change.

A disciplined society requires respect for time. The same people who disrespect deadlines turn round to complain about lack of planning and how we in ‘Ogyakrom’ are behind the developed countries. We do not appreciate how we contribute to this. We take our time to go to the bus station because we know that the bus has to be full before it moves. In the developed countries, it is about deadlines. The bus will move at the designated time even if nobody is sitting in it. This brings discipline, and the society can plan better.

We have choices: we can continue not to be interested in deadlines or learn from best practices around the world and get more serious with deadlines.

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