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9 August 2016, 17:10
A Nottingham dentist who sparked a major alert prompting a mass blood screening of patients has told of his ``total shock'' at allegations of malpractice and insisted he cared for many of his patients ``as friends''.
Desmond D'Mello, who ran the Daybrook Dental Practice in Arnold, described the investigation into the accusations as ``callous and very humiliating''.
Mr D'Mello, faces more than 50 allegations of malpractice - a series of alleged hygiene failures, including not changing his gloves between appointments, and accusations that he irresponsibly prescribed drugs to a patient, the General Dental Council (GDC) in London has heard.
He was suspended on June 13 2014 after a whistleblower secretly filmed him allegedly breaching clinical standards across three days.
Mr D'Mello, who has been a dentist for nearly 38 years and began his own practice in 1980, has not attended the hearing but sent an email addressing the charges to the committee.
In the statement, read to court, he said: ``As you can imagine, this was a total shock to me and I have to say that the way the three officers from NHS England handled the whole situation was callous and very humiliating.
``I was so shocked to be accused of such serious failings in infection control, I offered them a chance to carry out an inspection immediately.''
He said that the results of the ``mass blood screening'' of his patients for blood-borne viruses at the end of 2014 had produced positive results ``far below'' the average for the population.
``I hope this very low positive result proves that the evidence caught on the illegal covert filming does not reflect the way I practised dentistry over the previous 38 years,'' Mr D'Mello said in his statement.
The hearing has heard how 22,000 patients listed on the practice database were written to and offered blood testing following the allegations, with around 6,000 coming forward.
NHS England said that 4,526 patients of Mr D'Mello were tested following the recall, with five of these found to have hepatitis C. None were diagnosed with hepatitis B or HIV.
The statement, parts of which were read in private due to confidentiality issues, concluded: ``I loved my job and found it an honour and privilege to treat my 22,000 patients, many of whom I cared for as friends.
``Several of my own family were my patients out of which half of them were general medical practitioners.''
He added that he was ``no longer any risk to public health'' and had applied for ``voluntary erasure'' from the GDC register on two occasions.
Mr D'Mello, who qualified in 1977, had a contract with the NHS for the financial year 2014-15 worth nearly #675,000, the hearing heard.
Catriona Peterson, dental adviser for NHS England's Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire team, which was involved in the investigation, said Mr D'Mello's practice was contracted for 29,000 units of dental activity, each worth #23.25.
Mr D'Mello faces 56 allegations.
Dental nurse Caroline Surgey faces 20 allegations, including failing to inform the NHS of the ``poor standard of infection control'' at the surgery.
The hearing will resume on Wednesday at 9.30am and is expected to last three weeks.