Nottinghamshire dental patients recalled following apparent breach of infection control procedures

NHS England in Nottinghamshire has been working with Public Health England to investigate apparent breaches of infection control procedures by a single dentist, who was contracted to provide NHS dental services at the former Daybrook Dental Practice, 88 Mansfield Road in Gedling, Nottinghamshire.

In June 2014 NHS England was contacted by a whistleblower who had concerns about the standards of clinical care being provided to patients. The whistleblower provided NHS England with supporting evidence, including covertly-filmed footage of dentist Mr Desmond D’Mello.

Having reviewed the evidence, NHS England immediately ordered an interim suspension of Mr D’Mello and commenced an investigation into clinical practices at the dental surgery. That investigation is ongoing and no findings have been made at this time in respect of Mr D’Mello.

The investigation team has also consulted with clinical experts in Public Health England, who undertook a clinical analysis of the potential risk to patients. Mr D’Mello has recently been tested by our Occupational Health Team and found to be clear of blood borne viruses. NHS England can therefore confirm that there is no risk of infection from Mr D’Mello himself. However, Public Health England did identify that patients seen by Mr D’Mello appear to have been placed at a possible low risk of infection from blood borne viruses (hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV), due to apparent multiple failures in cross-infection control standards whilst undergoing dental treatment.

Based on this clinical advice, Public Health England has recommended screening for all patients who have been treated by Mr D’Mello. It is understood the number of patients affected who have been seen and treated by Mr D’Mello during his time at the former Daybrook Dental Practice is about 22,000, as he had worked at the practice for over 32 years. NHS England has since been working with partners to make the necessary arrangements for a patient recall.

Dr Doug Black, Medical Director for NHS England in Nottinghamshire, said: “Our investigation demonstrates that acceptable infection control standards do not appear to have been followed by Mr D’Mello whilst he was treating patients at the former Daybrook Dental Practice. Immediate actions were taken to protect current patients once these apparent lapses were identified.

“However, this alleged drop in clinical standards may have put people at a low risk of infection from hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, we are advising all patients who have seen Mr D’Mello to seek further advice on what action they may need to take.

“A dedicated advice line has been established on 03330 142479 for guidance on how to access additional support and is available 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

“We have also set up a Community Clinic for affected patients to provide further help and support. This is presently available 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, at Arnold Health Centre, located at Highcroft Medical Centre on the High Street in Arnold, Nottingham NG5 7BQ.

“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.

“We are working closely with Public Health England and the General Dental Council to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. We have separately contacted those who were filmed without consent to explain what has happened and we are providing ongoing support and assistance to all those who may be affected by this issue.”

Since August 2014 the former Daybrook Dental Practice has been under new ownership by Southern Dental, which is not in any way connected to this incident but has offered ongoing support and cooperation to our investigation and Mr D’Mello is no longer associated with this practice.

On 21 August 2014 the Interim Orders Committee of the General Dental Council, the national UK body which regulates dental professionals, suspended Mr D’Mello for a period of 18 months whilst they undertake their own investigation into the concerns raised.

Dr Vanessa MacGregor, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control for Public Health England in the East Midlands, said: “We have worked hard to identify the potential risk to individuals who may have been at risk of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV and I would like to emphasise the risk of infection is low and that testing is being offered as a precautionary measure.

“Effective treatments are available for all blood borne viruses, which is why it is important to identify anyone who may have been at risk of infection so treatment can be started if necessary.”