Refurbished Harold Gillies Unit officially opens

News: Gillies Unit opening night
Chris Palin, Ify Okocha and Louie French MP

The Gillies Unit at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, was officially reopened on 8 December by Louie French, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, plus representatives from both King’s College Hospital and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust.

The extensive work was undertaken on behalf of Oxleas by Galliford Try, who have worked closely with the Estates team on this and many other projects at the site.

The refurbished oral and maxillofacial surgery department, which is run by King’s, treats patients with dental and facial deformities, some of whom will go on to have orthognathic (jaw) surgery.

The unit also treats patients with skin cancers affecting the mouth, face, and head, as well as those requiring routine dental and orthodontic treatment.

Surgeon Harold Gillies was based at Queen Mary’s Hospital in the early 1900s, during which time the hospital treated hundreds of soldiers returning to England after fighting in the First World War, many of whom had suffered awful injuries to their head and face.

In treating these patients, Gillies offered them hope, and also helped establish many of the early plastic surgery procedures that have since been developed and used across the world.

The departments of Orthodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Oral Medicine, and Restorative Dentistry were refurbished to form the Gillies Unit just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the formal ceremony to officially open the facility has been delayed until now.

The upgraded unit has 17 dental clinic/consultation rooms, compared to six previously, and now provides special care dentistry, plus dental hygiene and therapy services.

The Gillies Unit also has a specialist dental radiology suite to help teams plan jaw surgery. There is also a dental and maxillofacial technical laboratory named after William Lane, a dental technician who was a compatriot of Gillies. The Gillies Unit also provides 3D digital impressions of teeth, plus an outpatient facial dermatology surgical theatre.

Ify Okocha, Oxleas NHS Chief Executive, said: “I don't think that they have anything of this size and quality anywhere else. To think that Oxleas was really the driving organisation that has brought this together is fantastic to know.”

Louie French, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, said: “I do think a big thank you needs to go towards not just King’s but actually the Oxleas Estates team for all the work they're doing around the hospital.”

Chris Palin, Medical Director at King’s said: “Walking through the front door, I'm just amazed at what's happened at the hospital and what they have done is amazing.”

Mark Sayers, Clinical Director for dental services at King’s, said: “It’s great to see the new unit officially opened, the updated space is a fitting tribute to Harold Gillies. I think Oxleas has been the perfect host.”

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Published on 15th December 2022