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A Harrogate Dentist is believed to be the only UK dentist to have remained open during the lockdown.
Dr Shohreh Ghasemi is from The Harrogate Dentist on Prospect Crescent and has continued to offer emergency treatment.
Dr Ghasemi said:
When the lockdown started, we never closed and carried on treating emergency patients. Routine dentistry was halted of course, but prior to the lockdown I had managed to put together a stock of PPE in place to use.
Infection control is part of the daily working of every dentist and the precautions needed for Covid-19 were similar to those that we would take with any patient, but enhanced with more PPE.
I felt that it was important that there was some emergency treatment available and that the risks were managable.
The effect of tooth pain can be very significant, including mental health issues and problems left untreated can lead to much more significant problems.
Dr Ghasemi started her career in Sweden, around 20 years ago, and then moved to the UK to work within the NHS. Two years ago she opened The Harrogate Dentist, a dental practice where she could give the time that was needed to each patient – a practice that she could run in her way with a focus on patient care.
Remaining open wasn’t without difficulty and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) challenged her over her decision.
Dr Ghasemi said:
The CQC contacted me fairly shortly after they were aware that I was still offering emergency treatment.
The CQC wanted to know what procedures I had in place and said that they were worried about my safety. They were given information and there was a lot of discussion over a number of phone calls.
Procedures were changed, but I couldn’t ask other staff to come in, so worked with patients on my own.
People started to come from me from as far afield as Wakefield or Blackpool.
The service that I offer is a 24 hour, 7 days a week service and I can recall many arriving late at night, and sometime in tears as they had been suffering.
I saw one patient who travelled as far away as Coventry, who had to make a return journey taking over 6 hours, for her serious tooth ache which she could no longer bear. After seeking help in her own town for over 1 week and trying to call 111, she had no option other than to travel to Harrogate to see me.
This patient arrived to my clinic at 2am! By the time I finished the treatment and ensured the clinic was fully cleaned again, I went home at 5:30am.
Of course I am more than happy to help and see any patient in need but this situation is not fair or convenient for anyone to go through.
I think it is now time for every dentist and organisation to try and find a solution for every patient to be seen in their own town & receive the treatment they need. Of course we need to follow the instruction and guidelines to ensure the safety of all practitioners and patients, however this can be done with the correct PPE. All dentists are very knowledgeable about cross infection, prevention & precaution, so we should be allowed to continue with our work.
Around 250 patients have received treatment and most will need to return for a final treatment.
The service was provided as she felt it important that an emergency service was maintained. All charges were to their established pricing structure.
Dr Ghasemi ran out of PPE and wants to giver her thanks Mrs. Julie Mills from the company “Supplies for Key Workers in and Around Harrogate” also my former principle doctor Reza Manafi in London and the Grammar school who supported me by providing visors.
In many cases the NHS were supplying kits for individuals to make temporary self-repair.
Most dentists will now resume on the 8 June 2020.