Refurbished Harold Gillies Unit officially opens

14 December 2022
The refurbished oral and maxillofacial surgery department at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup has been officially re-opened.

The Gillies Unit at Queen Mary’s Hospital is run by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and 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.

Dr Mark Sayers, Clinical Director for dental services at King’s, and an Orthodontic Consultant, said:

“It’s great to see the new unit officially opened, the updated space is a fitting tribute to Harold Gillies, and the incredible work he did on this same site over 100 years ago.

“It’s been in operation for three years, and opened to patients just before the COVID-19 pandemic, so the additional separate dental surgeries were vital in the provision of dental emergency treatment for the outer South East London and Kent region during the first wave of the pandemic.”

“The new, more modern space is better for staff, as we provide a truly multi-disciplinary service, and its also great news for the thousands of patients we see every year.”

The services at the Gillies Unit are run by King’s, and are located on the Queen Mary’s Hospital site, which is managed by Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust. The official opening of the new facility on 8 December was attended by Louie French, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, plus staff connected to the service.