Dentists help to deliver babies in NHS coronavirus effort

Dental teams at Barts Health NHS Trust are helping to deliver babies as part of the coronavirus battleA dentist has revealed dental teams are assisting c-section deliveries to help alleviate NHS pressure in the face of coronavirus.

Professor Shakeel Shahdad, consultant in restorative dentistry, based at Barts Health NHS Trust and QMUL Institute of Dentistry, said his department has been redeployed following lockdown.

Dental staff are now helping in maternity, the critical care unit (CCU), the emergency department, Urgent Treatment Centre and with staff testing for COVID-19.

As a result, some dental professionals have been assisting midwives as new mothers go into labour and are even helping with c-section procedures.

Currently, Professor Shahdad says there is very limited cover for dental emergencies provided by oral surgery and paediatric – with the dental space instead being reallocated to meet COVID-19 demands.

He said: ‘As part of the large NHS Trust, we knew early on the redeployment was on the cards.  Currently, our dental hospital space is being used for chemotherapy.  This has allowed for space being made available in the main hospital for COVID patients.’

Need for protection

Prof Shahdad is also the co-ordinator of a project that is producing thousands of new visors for frontline NHS staff.

Working with departments such as the School of Engineering and Materials Science and Queen Mary’s Blizzard Institute, the newly-designed visor supports acetate sheets to provide full face and neck protection.

He said: ‘I felt there was a need for better face protection when we were being “fit tested” in the dental hospital.

‘The project started as a small idea with one of my ex-scholars help design something based in India. I very quickly had colleagues from QMUL departments and Keratify, a QMUL spinoff company, come on board to work through multiple variations in design and concept.

‘Our idea was to work on a technically challenging and difficult concept, but the manufactured product for end-user had to be very user friendly, easy yet adjustable – and reusable (after appropriate disinfection).’

Dentists at Barts Health NHS Trust have been redeployed to other departments to assist coronavirus efforts

The team received a £25,000 grant from Barts Charity to help increase production numbers to 10,000, with the aim of supporting Barts Health and the new London-based Nightingale Hospital.

Another major help was collaboration with the East London-based printing company Batchworks. It raised an additional £10,000 through its own fundraising initiative – matching a £10,000 chunk of funding – to produce 10,000 visors.

FTSE 100 company Halma are also assisting the team with injection moulding the visor to ramp up production. Now, the project has an aim of producing 20,000 by the end of April – with the hope of producing more if funding replenishes.

Since producing the visors, Professor Shahdad said medical staff from neighbouring hospitals have come knocking at Barts Health NHS Trust in a desperate plea for PPE.

He said PPE levels in the hospital are unpredictable – but was speechless with the bank holiday response after he put out an appeal for gowns.Shakeel Shahdad has helped to create thousands of visors to protect staff against coronavirus

‘The supplies can be up and down’ he said.

‘To be fair, we have a good supply of FFP3 masks in hot zones. Additionally, our Visors are widely used in CCU, ED, maternity and UTC.

‘There are occasional shortages of gowns – this bank holiday weekend I had to appeal through social media for some gowns to be donated to our CCU.

‘I was overwhelmed by the response and managed to collect and deliver 750 surgical gowns, plus hundreds of hats and masks to the frontline staff in CCU.’ NHS Hero Support donated 500 of those gowns.’