BBC breakfast: Interviews Dr Patel

I spoke to the BBC Breakfast team about volunteering along with my team in the fight against coronavirus. I’m incredibly proud of my team and their willingness to help during these unprecedented times. This video is a recording of my short interview with the BBC.

Dr Kunal Patel

Stepping Up

Whatever profession you’re in, taking the decision to stop work is never easy – no matter the reason.

So, when it became clear that coronavirus posed too much of a threat to our patients and staff, the decision to down tools was a tough but logical call.

We felt that the aerosols created during dental procedures, as well as the nationwide scarcity of personal protective equipment, (PPE) made it difficult to justify carrying on as normal. Our decision was vindicated some two weeks later, when profesional dental bodies issued advice ordering the closure of dentists across the UK.

Dentistry isn’t like some other professions – we can’t consult over the phone or work from home and downing tools really does mean stopping work altogether.

It was a no-brainer to step up to the government’s request for support at its newly built Nightingale Hospital. It means that the Love Teeth team can continue doing what they love, while making a contribution to fighting the virus.

I’m immensely proud of my team for rising to the challenge. From hygienist to nurse and dentist, no team member missed a beat when volunteering their services throughout the crisis.

First of all, we’ve volunteered all of the Love Teeth to become part of a nationwide network of Urgent Dental Care Centres providing emergency treatments for acute pain.

And we’ve also provided a stock count of our PPE for use if it’s needed.

Finally, my team and I have volunteered our time helping to set up the temporary Nightingale Hospital – the 4,000-capacity temporary medical facility where London’s worst-affected patients will receive treatment for COVID-19. We hope to be among the medical staff chosen to work there when it opens.

Here I am on the BBC Breakfast news talking to Naga Munchetty and Charlie Staytt about how the Love Teeth team is rolling up its collective sleeves to help.



Interview Transcript

Naga Munchetty:

Now, Dr. Kunal Patel is a dentist, and has volunteered to help out along with his entire practise. And he joins us now, Dr. Patel, thank you very much for talking. It’s lovely to see a smiley face this morning.

Dr. Kunal Patel:

Good morning.

Naga Munchetty:

Good morning, you got the call, you heard the Nightingale Hospital being opened, what’s happening?

Dr. Kunal Patel:

So, we, two weeks ago, me and my team at Love Teeth Dental, we decided to put our drills down because unfortunately our governing bodies and the guidance wasn’t there for us. 

But as a dental community, we quite early on recognised that our PPE and the aerosols that we would create from our treatments was endangering and passing on the COVID virus. 

It wasn’t what we needed to happen at that point in time. So a couple of weeks ago, me and my team at Love Teeth, we decided to put our drills down and unfortunately we had to step away from treating our patients. 

Luckily, this week the chief dental officer has come out and shut down all dental practices across the country, for the safety of not transmitting COVID-19.

Dr. Kunal Patel:

So it’s been a great effort, and it was a sad time for us in the clinic because we’re used to helping people and we just felt as if we weren’t able to do our part for the NHS, but luckily enough we’ve been able to volunteer over the last few days to help the wider NHS. 

And what’s that’s involved is, first of all, obviously we’ve shut down our clinic, so we needed to make sure there was something in place to treat millions of patients. Because as you can probably imagine, we can’t really treat acute tooth pain with a phone, and that’s all we’re allowed to do at the moment. So luckily enough we’re able to help by being able to offer our clinic as an urgent dental care centre.

Naga Munchetty:

So to be clear, so you will be in the hospital but still working as a dentist for emergency cases?

Dr. Kunal Patel:

No, so I believe there’s three aspects of volunteering. I think the first one we’ve been able to do is volunteer our clinics as urgent dental care centres, and I think there’ll be located locally in our areas, and if our clinic is luckily to be selected, I believe our team will be one of the chosen teams in the area to treat acute dental pain. 

We are also, yesterday, asked by the NHS to tell them a stock count of which PPE we had available to us, such as masks, gloves. So I presume if we’re not chosen to be an urgent dental care centre, we will be offering our PPE equipment to either Nightingale Hospital or the centres. 

And lastly, we were able to, yesterday, officially volunteer the entire team from dental nurses to receptionists to therapists to dentists for the Nightingale Centre. Now, they did allow us to sort of…

Dr. Kunal Patel:

Because our skills are all going to vary from my dental team as you can imagine, so we are able to volunteer if you wanted face to face or if we wanted to prefer only being over the telephone care.

So this has been made available to us, we are able to volunteer. I mean, I was so proud of my dental team when they actually all said yes, I want to volunteer because it shows that great community support and we know what a tough time our medics are having on the frontline in the NHS, because we have so many colleagues intervene and they say as long as the correct PPE will be available, which you know obviously resulted in our dental clinic shutting, but we can only hope that the Nightingale Centre and everything else, the NHS has enough PPE to recruit me and my team in.

Dr. Kunal Patel:

Because obviously safety is first and we were not going to battle COVID by spreading the virus anymore, PPE is going to be essential in this. As long as we have it, we’re all hands in, my team are ready to go. But obviously I’m sure they [inaudible 00:04:16].

Naga Munchetty:

Okay, well look, Dr. Kunal Patel, thanks very much for talking to us and telling us your situation. Obviously, if you are chosen, you do work at the Nightingale Hospital, come back. Come back and tell us what it’s like and what’s going on, thanks very much.

Dr. Kunal Patel:

No, no, I will. We’re looking forward to helping the rest of the NHS.

Naga Munchetty:

Good. Thank you, it’s a good sentiment.

Dr. Kunal Patel:

Thank you.

Naga Munchetty:

Thanks very much.