22,000 dental patients recalled over HIV and blood-borne virus fears amid concern over Nottingham dentist Desmond D'Mello

Recall is believed to be biggest of its kind in UK medical history

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The Independent Online

More than 22,000 patients are to be recalled for tests to see if they have been infected with blood-borne viruses, including HIV, amid concerns over a dentist who treated patients in the Nottingham area.

The dentist has been named as Desmond D'Mello and the practice concerned is the Daybrook Dental Surgery, which is now under new ownership and no longer connected to Mr D'Mello.

NHS England said the "significant patient recall" of people – believed to be the biggest ever in UK medical history - will be screened for blood-borne viruses including HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

The recall was sparked by concerns Mr D'Mello, who treated patients in Nottingham over a 32-year period, did not follow proper procedures, The Mirror reported.

In a public appeal launched today to trace the patients, NHS England said Mr D'Mello was suspended in June this year and the NHS launched an immediate investigation into "apparent multiple failures in cross-infection control standard whilst undergoing dental treatment".

Health chiefs launched an investigation after viewing the footage and concluded patients may have been placed at risk of infection, the newspaper reports.

The dentist is understood not to be HIV positive or have any blood borne viruses.

Based on clinical advice, Public Health England has recommended screening for all patients who have been treated by Mr D'Mello at the former Daybrook Dental Practice in Gedling.

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

He 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 and a walk-in clinic have been set up to give guidance and support to patients who may have been affected.

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

A community clinic has been set up at the Arnold Health Centre in the Highcroft Medical Centre on the High Street in Arnold, Nottingham, and is open during the same hours.

Professor Andrew Lee, a public health expert at the University of Sheffield, said the risk of potentially contracting HIV is "quite low" for many patients.

He said blood-borne viruses cannot survive for very long outside the human body.

"Most patients attending the dentist will probably have pretty low-risk procedures carried out on them, often with single-use instruments, so they would not be at risk," he explained.

"There is a very small cohort of patients who have what is termed an 'exposure-prone procedure' - a more major dental procedure where the risk is potentially higher."