Dentist initiates crucial PPE hub to support care sector
A NORFOLK family dentist is spearheading a new network of dental staff and practice owners around the region, to ensure much needed PPE can be distributed where it is needed most.
Under governmental directives the majority of the 12,000 NHS and private dental practices in the UK have now been forced to close their doors and cease physically treating patients, with many practices still having access to supplies of face masks, gloves and aprons which are in such demand for the care sector.
Dr Gautam Sharma, who runs West Earlham Dental Practice in Norwich, found himself having to stop helping patients at the end of March, but recognised his access to clinical resources could be welcomed by care homes, GP surgeries and home care agencies around the county of Norfolk.
As a registered dentist, he is able to order supplies of critical protection equipment and was also left with his own unused quantity of masks and gloves.
For the last four weeks he has been contacting care organisations to offer to distribute supplies – and now he is seeking to take that concept a step further.
Dr Sharma has appealed to all East Anglian dentists to join forces with him, and to use their purchasing power to get the important PPE supplies for care facilities around the region.
He said: “It breaks my heart to hear how staff in the health and care sector are struggling to get the very equipment they need to do their job safely. While it’s been incredibly distressing to have to close the doors of my practice for now, it immediately placed me in the position of having immediate stock available, and the ability to continue to order from our suppliers.”
“It may be something of a misconception that there are no face masks or gloves which are of a standard good enough to be used by the likes of care staff and those in GP surgeries, but in fact, there is still ample supply, so we want to access it and redeploy it to good use.”
While Dr Sharma is able to purchase some stock each day, he needs the collective involvement of more practices to increase the amount which can be accessed and distributed.
He said: “I am hoping that as many dental practices as possible around the region will seek to get involved and play a part in getting PPE where it is most needed. We all have our varied suppliers in the sectors and need to be making the most of those purchasing relationships.”
“Right now, there is no immediate opportunity for the majority of dental practices to open themselves, so this critical equipment is not needed. This supply would not at all affect the PPE which is required on an ongoing basis by the ‘urgent dental care centres’ which are now up and running in the UK and will continue to be throughout the crisis.”
Dr Sharma believes it is particularly important that care home and hospice staff receive this supply, especially in light of recent confirmation about the large number of Covid-19 deaths which have taken place in such venues around the country.
He has already distributed a supply of 500 masks to two properties owned by East Anglia Care Homes Ltd. A member of the team at one of those properties, who wished not to be named, said: ‘’We were running critically low and this supply will be greatly appreciated and help the team.”
Any care professionals with surplus stock, or organisations in need of supplies, are encouraged to get in contact with Dr Sharma. They can contact him on 01603 250583 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Sharma has also set up a Just Giving page – Protect Our Heroes, where any funds donated by the public will be used in the purchase of PPE. 100% of this will be redeployed to those organisations and charities in need.
Those in need of dental services are reminded that urgent hubs exist in Norwich and Lowestoft and the distribution of this PPE does not affect any supplies to the NHS.
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