Desmond D'Mello case: Dentist's patients in compensation blow
Former patients of a Nottinghamshire dentist who was suspended over hygiene concerns have been told they might not receive compensation.
More than 22,000 former patients at the Daybrook practice of Desmond D'Mello were recalled in June last year.
In what was called the "biggest recall in NHS history", they were screened for blood-borne viruses such as HIV.
Mr D'Mello has been refused insurance cover, which lawyers say means any claims would go directly to him.
The dentist, who had been at the practice for 15 years, was suspended over allegations he failed to wash his hands, change gloves or sterilise instruments between patients.
'Up in smoke'
The concerns came to light after he was secretly filmed breaking hygiene rules and a whistleblower went to health authorities.
The Dental Defence Union, of which Mr D'Mello is a member, assisted him during the NHS England investigation but has now decided not to cover any claims.
Dentist and lawyer David Corless-Smith said this decision could leave Mr D'Mello's former patients short-changed and the dentist bankrupt.
"The protection they ought to have had has gone up in smoke," he said.
"They have all been put through immense anxiety and stress at discovering that they have potentially contracted a life-threatening virus.
"They will now have to pursue Mr D'Mello personally and that is a whole different process."
Mr Corless-Smith, from the Dental Law Partnership, which is representing more than 200 of Mr D'Mello's former patients, said they could each be entitled to £2,000-5,000.
This money would now have to come out of Mr D'Mello's pocket.
"There is a certainty that the majority of the patients will not receive any or all their compensation," said Mr Corless-Smith.
"Now he [Mr D'Mello] is not a man of straw but he may not be rich enough to pay out all those claims."
The Dental Defence Union declined to comment on individual cases.