Family’s horror at dentist’s health probe

Press conference by NHS England in Nottinghamshire about the apparent breaches of infection control procedures by Nottinghamshire dentist Desond D'Mello. Pictured is Dr Doug Black, Medical Director NHS England, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and Dr Vanessa MacGregor, Public Health England.
Press conference by NHS England in Nottinghamshire about the apparent breaches of infection control procedures by Nottinghamshire dentist Desond D'Mello. Pictured is Dr Doug Black, Medical Director NHS England, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and Dr Vanessa MacGregor, Public Health England.

A Hucknall mother-of-three has expressed her horror after discovering the disgraced dentist at the centre of a major health scare had treated her family for more than 20 years.

Anthea Johnston says she was ‘mortified’ to discover that the man she trusted and regarded as a family friend was under investigation for poor hygiene procedures, whose 22,000 patients are now being asked to step forward to be screened for hepatitis and HIV.

Mr Desmond D’Mello ran Daybrook Dental Practice near Arnold and is accused of failing to wash his hands between patients, as well as failing to sterilise instruments.

He was caught when a member of staff, appalled by the standards, secretly filmed him over a three-day period in June. He was immediately suspended by the General Medical Council.

Although Mr D’Mello was tested cleared of having any blood-borne illness, experts say there is a ‘small chance’ that patients could have contracted hepatitis B, C or HIV, if one or more patients under his care had any of the diseases.

Now Mr Johnston, and her three children who are aged 16, 18 and 20, face an agonising wait to take the tests, and then the results.

“We are absolutely mortified,” she said.

“You put a level of trust in someone and it’s revolting when you think about it. I do not want to think about anything coming back positive.

“I went for my regular check up only to be told he had retired, which I thought was strange because there had been no mention of it.

“The last time I saw him was in June and he had lost weight and told me he’d had a few health problems.

“He was lovely, and my children have been going there since they were born.

“I asked my son if he ever said he saw him wash his hands, and none of us can.

“Over the last couple of years I have had a lot of trouble with my gums, so I was there frequently.”

Mrs Johnston said that Mr D’Mello would often seen multiple patients at a time, tending to a second patient while an anaesthetic took hold with a previous patient.

She says even the patients’ files were kept in a toilet.

She added: “He would get them out with his gloves on and then put those gloves in your mouth.

“It never occurred to me but the more I think about it, there are so many elements that ring true.

“You trust them because they’re professionals.”

During a press conference in Mansfield on Wednesday held by NHS England, it was heard that the Care Quality Commission team visited the surgery in July and found the staff toilet was used for storing equipment.

Dr Doug Black, medical director for NHS England in Nottinghamshire, said:

“Acceptable hygiene standards did not appear to be followed, it’s very basic.”

“The risk is low, but anyone treated by Mr D’Mello should contact the advice line.

“People often keep the same dentist when they move house, so it looks like his cohort of patients extends beyond the boundaries of Gedling borough.

“It is recommended that any patient who received treatment by Mr D’Mello be called back for screening, a blood test might be needed.

“We are extremely sorry for the undoubted worry or concern on hearing this news.

The advice line for anyone concerned about being treated by Dr D’Mello should phone 03330 142479.

* If you underwent treatment from Mr D’Mello, contact Chad on 01623 450305 or email newsdesk@chad.co.uk or newsdesk@hucknall-dispatch.co.uk