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HIV THREAT AT DENTISTS.

Byline: EUAN STRETCH

THOUSANDS of NHS dental patients could have been infected with deadly HIV or hepatitis because a dentist failed to sterilise blood-spattered instruments properly.

About 5,700 people feared to have been put at risk will get phone calls and letters alerting them from today.

They will be offered blood tests to establish if they have been infected, as well as counselling.

The unnamed dentist worked at the Frenchay Dental Practice in Bristol from 2003 to July 2007, before moving to another surgery in Bournemouth, Dorset, in January 2008.

The warning letter, from the director of South Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust Dr Chris Payne, offers blood tests for HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

He said that concerns had been raised about the dentist's standards of "infection control" as dental instruments "may not have been adequately sterilised".

But assuring patients the risk of infection is low, he explained: "This can only happen in the rare event that a small amount of infected blood from one person gets into the bloodstream of another patient and the risk of this happening in dental care is very low indeed."

The alarm was raised by staff at the Bournemouth surgery where the dentist worked as a locum.

Health bosses will not name the dentist, who has now retired, or the other surgery caught up in the scare.

CAPTION(S):

LETTER Chris Payne
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 1, 2009
Words:230
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