Dentist told to bin magazines due to 'infection risk'

Waiting room The NHS regulator says it has no rule about magazines or the use of adhesive putty

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An NHS dentist says she was told to get rid of old magazines from her waiting room because they posed an infection risk.

Monica Symes, a dentist in Lyme Regis, Dorset, says an NHS infection control worker warned her that keeping back issues of Country Life could make her fail health and safety inspections.

The NHS regulator denies such a rule.

The British Dental Association said dentists were being stymied by heavy-handed rules.

Miss Symes, who has practised as a dentist for more than 30 years, says she was also told not to use adhesive putty, such as Blu-Tack, on posters in her waiting room because of "the danger of cross-infection".

Miss Symes said: "She also told me to reupholster the cushions in my waiting room for patients to sit on in plastic rather than fabric.

"It seemed a bit over the top."

The trust that employs the infection control worker said magazines should be in "good condition and free from obvious contamination".

Cleanliness

A spokesman said: "The [primary care trust] PCT's current advice to NHS dental practice owners is that patient waiting areas should be kept clear of unnecessary clutter to facilitate regular effective cleaning.

Start Quote

Providing magazines in waiting rooms for patients to read is a good way of helping them to relax and can ease the concerns of anxious individual”

End Quote Dr John Milne British Dental Association

"There is no specific requirement for practices to remove magazines within a specified time period; however, practice owners, as part of a cleaning schedule, should ensure that magazines are in good condition and free from obvious contamination. This advice will be kept under review and may be modified in the event of any future community infection outbreaks."

The Care Quality Commission, which regulates dental surgeries to ensure they meet national standards on things like hygiene, said the regulator had never ordered dental surgeries to remove any magazines, nor set any rules about using Blu-Tack.

A spokesman said: "The only time these things would be an issue would be if our inspectors found them being used in such a way as to compromise the safety of someone using the service."

Dr John Milne, chair of the British Dental Association's General Dental Practice Committee, said: "Patients are at the heart of everything dentists do and cleanliness and hygiene is taken very seriously by dental practices.

"Providing magazines in waiting rooms for patients to read is a good way of helping them to relax and can ease the concerns of anxious individuals. Blu-tack is often used to display posters that reinforce positive oral health messages or advise patients about the care that the practice provides.

"Dentists are not opposed to regulation, but believe that it should be proportionate, cost-effective and non-duplicatory. Too often, in recent years, it has felt like regulation has been designed to hinder, rather than support, dentists' efforts to care for their patients."

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