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15 August 2016, 15:08
A Nottingham dentist whose surgery hygiene standards sparked a major health scare has had a string of malpractice allegations against him proven.
Desmond D'Mello prompted a mass blood screening of patients after a whistleblower exposed the poor levels of cleanliness at his practice.
More than 22,000 patients were recalled after he was secretly filmed breaching clinical standards at the Daybrook Dental Practice in Gedling, Nottinghamshire, over the course of three days in 2014.
A conduct hearing at the General Dental Council in London found scores of allegations against him included failing to change gloves between patients and failing to put on a new surgical mask for each patient.
All but one of more than 50 allegations against him was proved, the panel found. Mr D'Mello, who had been a dentist for nearly 38 years and began his own practice in 1980, still faces a final ruling from the committee.
The panel said in its findings of fact: ``Mr D'Mello was under a duty to maintain adequate infection control for patients and staff.
``Mr D'Mello's actions...were a departure from this duty and, there, constituted a failure to maintain adequate infection controls.''
Dental nurse Caroline Surgey admitted more than 20 allegations which happened when she was working alongside Mr D'Mello.
The 43-year-old mother-of-two told the hearing on Monday she had failed to adequately re-educate herself following a hiatus from the profession and was scared to challenge Mr D'Mello in case she lost her job.
An emotional Ms Surgey, who has since received the relevant training, said of her reaction when she re-watched the video of herself: ``It was appalling.
``If I saw that person doing that I would be horrified, I was ashamed and I could see failures in all of it and if I saw that person I would think they were a really bad person.''
She added: ``I have let myself down, I have let my family down, I have let the profession down, I have let the patients down and I have the public down and it will never, never happen again.''
When the whistleblower's footage was shown to horrified health bosses, 22,000 patients listed on the practice database were written to and offered blood testing, with around 6,000 coming forward.
It is believed to be the largest recall in NHS England's history, and screenings were offered for blood-borne viruses including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Of the patients who came forward, 4,526 patients of Mr D'Mello were tested, five of whom were found to have hepatitis C. None were found with HIV or hepatitis B.
Due to the multiple ways in which these infections can be transmitted, however, it is not possible to identify how those with hepatitis C caught it.
Ms Surgey spoke of how Mr D'Mello insisted on seeing ``massive amounts of patients'', sometimes seeing up to four in the space of 15 minutes.
She told the hearing: ``We saw a lot of patients so cross-infection control was impossible - he was my boss and I thought my loyalty was to my employer.
``I know that's not correct, it is to my patients and I should have held the patients first.''
She added: ``I really did not think I had any place in telling the dentist what to do, but I know now that I can and I will.''
One witness had previously described to the panel the ``filthy'' state of D'Mello's surgery and how she had been rebuked by him for cleaning too much.
The hearing heard on its opening day how an investigation determined there had been ``very few glove repurchases'' in the surgery and the witness later told how she had once found a soiled glove stuffed into a box for new ones.
Ms Surgey said on Monday: ``It was obviously to ease costs so he did not like me changing gloves all the time.
``He would comment if somebody changed their gloves all the time.''
She added: ``He would make comments about another member of staff using gloves and going through the gloves all the time.''
Mr D'Mello did not attend the hearing, instead opting to write to the committee last week to express his ``total shock'' at the allegations, the handling of which he said was ``humiliating''.
The former dentist had a contact for the NHS for the financial year 2014-15 worth nearly #675,000, but was suspended when the allegations were made on June 13 2014.