Special isolation pods have been installed in Dundee to enable dental students to return to practical learning amid the pandemic.

NHS Tayside have invested in 20 self-contained dental pods, 14 of which are in place at the Dundee Dental Hospital and School.

Dr Andrew Hall, clinical senior lecturer at the Dundee Dental School, also said: “The installation of the dental pods has been a significant boost to our severely depleted teaching facilities in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

“Setting up dental pods covering dental chairs in open clinics at Dundee Dental Hospital has allowed us to undertake Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) such as fillings and crown preparations once more during student clinics.

“While there are some side surgeries for mainly staff use at Dundee dental hospital, we have to use ventilation provided by an open window and wait up to 40 minutes for any aerosol to displace.

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“Pods allow us more places where we can teach our students and only have to wait 10 minutes for the aerosol to disperse.

HeraldScotland: Isolation pod Credit: PAIsolation pod Credit: PA

“This means we can start to address the backlog in student teaching and experience which has arisen with this significant change in the practise of dentistry.”

Hall added that although there is a lot of work to be done, the pods are a “big step in the right direction”.

They're normally used to make hot and hazardous environments safe to work in, by monitoring the air and closing via a sensor if any toxic or flammable gasses are detected.

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However, the Dundee-based Starn Group have adapted the technology to provide safe environments for healthcare staff and patients.

Starn Group project manager, James Downie, said: “We knew our technology had the potential to be adapted to help the NHS and so we mobilised out teams to make it a reality as soon as we could.

“We conducted extensive research into the guidelines for working within hospital environments, working closely with the NHS on design and construction standards.

HeraldScotland: Inside an isolation pod Credit: PAInside an isolation pod Credit: PA

“There has been a significant amount of interest in the technology, which is manufactured in Dundee, using locally sourced materials and measured for each location.

“The system has the ability to set the number of air changes in the units with a minimum of 12 per hour drastically reducing the time required between patients from several hours, to a matter of minutes.”

Eve Daniell is a fifth-year undergraduate student at Dundee Dental Hospital and one of a handful of students who is benefiting from the technology.

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She said: “The clinical training is of course essential and it’s been frustrating being unable to progress, though we understand it’s for the safety of not only us but also our patients.

“The SafeClinic technology has allowed that progression and now that I know how effective it is, I can see the technology being used in dental practices as we as a profession move towards a sense of normality – it’s a solution that it makes sense to use.”

The isolation pods have also been installed by NHS Lanarkshire at University Hospital Wishaw’s Adult Critical Care Unit, and the intensive care unit at University Hospital Hairmyres in East Kilbride.