1,300 contact dentist helpline


Published: Thursday 13th November 2014 by The News Editor

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More than 1,300 people have contacted a helpline set-up after a dentist was suspended for flouting safety and hygiene standards and another 600 have sought advice at a dedicated clinic.

Around 22,000 patients treated by Desmond D’Mello at his Nottinghamshire clinic have been urged to come forward for tests for blood-borne viruses including HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

Police are also investigating the death of a young woman who died shortly after she was treated at Mr D’Mello’s surgery to see if there is any connection with the claims of bad practice.

These allegations include that he kept medical equipment in the staff toilet and failed to wash his hands and change his gloves between patients.

NHS England said 1,333 patients had so far called the helpline, and more than 600 people had gone to a clinic set up to deal with queries and perform precautionary blood tests.

A spokeswoman said 452 patients had so far been tested at the clinic in Arnold, Nottingham.

Health chiefs launched a public appeal yesterday to trace every patient who had been treated by Mr D’Mello, 60, during his 32-year career.

It is believed to be the biggest recall in British history.

Mr D’Mello, who ran the Daybrook Dental Practice in Gedling, Nottinghamshire, was suspended in June after a whistleblower secretly filmed him allegedly breaching clinical standards.

And police said they were investigating possible links between the death of a 23-year-old woman in August 2013, and the treatment she received at the clinic earlier that month.

Nottinghamshire police stressed their investigation was on behalf of the local coroner and was not technically a criminal investigation.

An investigation into the death of another woman, 29, who died in August 2013 found “no evidence” of any links between her treatment and her death.

Within an hour of the recall’s announcement, worried patients had started queuing outside the emergency walk-in clinic set up for them at the Highcroft Medical Centre, in Arnold.

NHS England said Mr D’Mello was not infected with any of the viruses himself.

But they said his alleged failure to follow clinical standards may have put his patients at “low risk” of infection.

Dr Doug Black, medical director for NHS England in Nottinghamshire, apologised to the thousands of patients caught up in the scare.

He said: “We are extremely sorry for the undoubted worry and concern people may feel on hearing this news.

“I would like to stress again that the risk is low but would encourage anyone affected to contact the advice line.”

There are fears that breaches of safety standards at the clinic could date back decades.

Care Quality Commission inspectors launched a surprise visit on the clinic in July this year, and found the centre did not meet cleanliness and infection control standards.

The report said: “We observed the staff toilet and the room next to the toilet were being used as store rooms for equipment.

“This posed a risk of these items coming into contact with body fluids which may be contaminated.

“This risk had not been identified by staff at the dental surgery and no action had been taken to minimise it.”

Their visit followed concerns raised the previous month by an unnamed whistleblower who used a hidden camera to film Mr D’Mello.

The footage allegedly showed “multiple failures in cross-infection control standards”.

But inspectors had visited the clinic just six months before, in November last year, and gave it a clean bill of health.

Mr D’Mello has been suspended for 18 months pending a full investigation into the allegations.

Health officials are now trying to trace all his former clients, but warn that they do not have up to date information for everyone.

Two nurses who were also filmed are also being investigated.

The former Daybrook Dental Practice has been under new ownership and Mr D’Mello is no longer associated with the practice.

Patients visiting the dedicated clinic yesterday said they werer shocked and surprised by the news.

One man, who was a patient of the dentist for 30 years, said: “He was an excellent dentist, that’s all I can say.”

Another said: “He was a lovely chap – a wonderful dentist.

“I was very happy with him and it’s all come as a bit of a shock.”

Patients can contact a helpline on 03330 142479, which is staffed 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

The community clinic that has been set up at the Arnold Health Centre in the Highcroft Medical Centre on the High Street in Arnold is open during the same hours.

Published: Thursday 13th November 2014 by The News Editor

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