Dental practice supports NHS as tough times start to bite

 Read time: 5 mins      Added: Date: 29-05-2020

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A family run Greater London dental practice has donated all of its personal protective equipment (PPE) to NHS colleagues and stands ready to join the frontline fight against coronavirus.

Love Teeth in North Cheam closed its doors to patients on 16 March, a week before the Chief Dental Officer of England ordered all dentists to put down their drills.

Owner and principal dentist Dr Kunal Patel said: "Even though as a dental clinic, our cross infection and safety protocols were already exceptional, reducing patients travelling for appointments was key.

"We realised that by keeping our doors open we weren't helping the fight against COVID-19.

"Keeping our team, patients and the community safe was the priority and we had to think of the greater good."

Love Teeth was founded in 2014 and has 21 staff, including six associate dentists, two hygienists and six dental nurses.

The state-of-the-art, award-winning digital clinic, which also trains other dentists, has 13,600 NHS and private patients and offers a complete range of services, from cosmetic to emergency dentistry.

Since closing, the practice moved to donate all its stocks of PPE to NHS colleagues, including 30,000 pairs of gloves and 1500 face masks and Dr Patel promised his valued staff they would not lose out financially during the crisis and they would continue to receive full pay.

Love Teeth's NHS staff however, did not qualify for the government's furlough scheme, which pays 80 per cent of staff wages. It continued to receive its NHS income as staff were still phone triaging and stayed ready to be deployed if needed for the wider NHS, but this left Dr Kunal Patel facing a substantial funding gap.

A £250,000 loan to the practice from Lloyds Bank, through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has helped to plug that gap, meaning Dr Patel could keep the promise he made to his staff. It also makes sure the 13,600 patients have a dental clinic to return to after the pandemic is over.

"It was a very nervous time, but with Lloyds' support, I know we will survive. My team are like my family. It would have been disastrous if we had to lose any of them."

Dr Kunal Patel, Owner, Love Teeth

"Now the whole team stands ready to be deployed when called upon for the wider NHS.

"Our roles are likely to be secondary to doctors, but we do have useful clinical knowledge and we want to help our NHS colleagues.

"But we want to reassure our patients that we will be back to complete their treatments and serve our community again."

Love Teeth

Julie Haggerty, commercial relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “We know that there are many successful businesses with bright futures that need extra support during the coronavirus outbreak.

"We're working with customers' right across the region to guide them through these tough times and help them access the support that’s available, including through CBILS."

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