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3000 IN HIV SCARE OVER DIRTY DENTIST; Patients offered blood tests.

Byline: By Judith Duffy

MORE than 3000 patients are being offered HIV tests after claims that a dentist used dirty instruments.

Former Army dentist John Halliday is being investigated and has agreed to stop working. A dentist from another practice reported him to health chiefs.

The alert covers 1511 NHS patients, 954 of them children under 16. Around 2000 private patients are also affected.

The patients from Halliday's Inverness practice will be offered blood tests for HIV and hepatitis. Officials say the risk of infection is extremely low.

The claims about Halliday cover the period from August 2002 to August this year. But officials at NHS Highland were only alerted at the beginning of this month.

The alarm was raised by dentist Chris Parkin, who works in the same building as Halliday, but for a different practice.

Investigators who spoke to past and present colleagues of Halliday found that there had been concerns about the cleanliness of his instruments for two years.

But no one said anything until Mr Parkin came forward. He told officials that Halliday's equipment was not always properly sterilised.

Halliday, of the Inshes Dental Centre in Inverness,has not worked since September 9. He stopped practising 'by mutual agreement'. NHS Highland public health consultant Dr Dennis Tracey said yesterday: 'The evidence we have suggests any risk is extremely small.

'However, there is a remote possibility that some viruses, for example hepatitis B,hepatitis C and HIV, can be transmitted by blood on instruments from one patient to another.

'We have written to all the dentist's NHS patients with information and advice.We are working with the dentist's representatives to make similar information available to his private patients.

'People can phone our helpline to discuss all the options. If they still have concerns, they can speak to experts, have counselling, and blood tests will be available.'

Officials put the risk of hepatitis B at about one in 125,000, hepatitis C at one in 250,000, and HIV at one in about seven million. NHS Highland stressed that the allegations do not apply to Mr Parkin's practice.

Chief executive Roger Gibbins said the trust acted immediately when the claims were reported.

He confirmed that interviews carried out by the trust had revealed two-year-old concerns about Halliday's instruments.

Halliday was not answering his door yesterday. The curtains remained closed at his home at Milton of Leys, near Inverness.

He is being represented by professional body Dental Protection, who said he was 'co-operating fully' with investigators.

The General Dental Council, who have powers to strike dentists off, said they would wait for the outcome of the NHS investigation before deciding whether Halliday should face disciplinary action.

# PATIENTS can call the NHS helpline on08000282816.Lines are open daily from 8am to 10pm.

CAPTION(S):

HELP: Dennis Tracey; CONCERNS: Halliday, left, stopped practising after he was reported to NHS Highland by dentist Chris Parkin, above
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 22, 2004
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