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Dentist reported to police for using drone to take care of patient

By Franziska Beier, DTI
May 21, 2020

WOMBOURNE, UK: In times of SARS-CoV-2, dentists are taking unusual measures to ensure that their patients receive medical care despite contact restrictions and lockdowns. In attempting to adhere to these, a dentist from the Willows Dental and Implant Centre in Wombourne delivered essential medicine to one of his patients using a drone. However, he was reported to the police, and in response, the dental practice apologised for “thinking too far outside of the box”.

It all started with a video that the dental practice had posted on its Facebook page, showing a drone flying through the sky carrying a box. The post said that the antibiotics were delivered within 7 minutes by the drone, flying at 27 mph (43.45 km/hour).

However, even though drones are legal in the UK, operators must be registered and the aircraft must have permission from the UK Civil Aviation Authority to fly near towns and cities. A couple of days after the post, the dental practice received a visit from the police.

A Staffordshire Police spokesperson told the regional newspaper the Express & Star: “Officers were notified of a social media video of a drone and a post from a man stating he was delivering drugs to patients from a dental surgery in Wombourne at noon May 9. Officers attended the man’s address and words of advice were given.”

After this, the dental practice made an apology on its Facebook page: “As a dental practice that’s constantly pushing the boundaries in patient care, it seems in carrying out drone deliveries of essential medicines to clients in need in a time of need and lockdown, we upset some people on social media that take drone flying very seriously and reported us to the police. We can assure you that no one was hurt, our patient is out of pain and it wasn’t our intention to upset anyone.”

“We genuinely thought we were helping people in lockdown, and didn’t think we’d be interfering with any planes in the sky. So, for those of you that reported us to the police, consider our knuckles rapped. We’re sorry for thinking too far outside the box,” the post continued.

Dr Neel Barchha, one of the principal dentists at the Willows practice, told the Express & Star: “The incredibly professional police officers from Wombourne are satisfied that no crimes have been committed, a risk assessment was carried out and no rules and regulations were broken. May we take this opportunity to apologise to the professional drone community for any offence caused and wish the people of Wolverhampton the best of health over this difficult time. We continue to serve our community and carry out essential medical and dental care without the use of drones.”

According to a humorous Facebook post on 9 May, the Willows Dental and Implant Centre has already come up with an alternative means of transporting medicine. A photograph showing a Bernese Mountain Dog carrying a small package around her neck was titled “Don’t worry about the drone deliveries, one of our therapy dogs Rosie has volunteered.”


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