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Dentists’ Health Support Trust (DHST) – A critical appraisal

Janine Brooks MBE

The Trust has been keen to ensure that the service it provides is a quality service. To that end a critical appraisal has been undertaken by an external expert, Dr. Douglas Fowlie. The critical review is not research into methods used or outcomes achieved; it is an evaluation of the service we provide by an independent external expert.

Between June 2008 (when data was first collected in an analyzable format) and September 2013 the DHSP received a total of 413 enquiries. 135 patients received care and intervention. The programme has a current active caseload of 92 dental professionals as patients. A review of those who contacted the programme between 2008 and 2012 and have now left the programme, shows 93% have fully recovered. This percentage compares very favourably with other specialized services for health professionals in the UK and North America.

Tony Chivers 12th April 1920 to May 3rd 2015 (Founder)

St Andrew’s Church, Medstead was so full at the service of thanksgiving for Tony Chivers on 23rd May 2015 that the service required to be video-linked to the overflowing church hall; it was a moving service remembering the life of a unique member of the dental profession.

Tony was born in 1920 in a small Somerset village near Frome, he attended a small private school with 10 pupils where he discovered his talent for running. He left school in 1939 and attended Bristol University to study dentistry but continued to pursue his love of running, remaining unbeaten in both the cross country and one mile events. At the onset of war Tony volunteered for the Territorial Army and was soon called up, resulting in his dental training and athletics being put on hold for seven years.

His period of military service was eventful commencing in an anti-aircraft battery prior to him joining the Royal Flying Corps and becoming proficient as a reconnaissance photographer. He recounted many other hair raising incidents in his military career as a pilot.

Tony reached the rank of Captain before leaving the army and resuming his studies at Bristol following the end of the war. Whilst still a student he represented England in the Five Nations Cross Country Championship, winning the British Six Mile Championship in 1948 and only missed representing Britain at the London Olympics through injury. He ran the 5000 metres against the USA and subsequently won the 5000 metres competing for Great Britain against France. In 1950 Tony won a bronze medal in the Empire Games in New Zealand. Despite all the athletic competition he maintained his studies in Bristol; in addition to gaining a BDS and an LDS in 1950, he also won the Dental Gold Medal for his year.

Following qualification Tony Chivers spent 23 years in general practice, both private and NHS, and twelve years as a Senior Dental Officer in the Community Services. From early in his career Tony took an active role in the local BDA becoming secretary and then chairman of the Southampton Branch as well as treasurer and president of the Wessex Branch Council where he served as President for ten years. He was made a Fellow of the BDA in 1982. During his time with the BDA Tony became aware that the Benevolent Fund had no provision to help those who volunteered for service within the Fund’s activities but who subsequently had financial difficulties through their own ill health. He set up a trust fund to help these individuals and managed to attract monies from various sources including the Ministry of Health. This led to the Sick Dentist Scheme and Trust (now known as the Dentists Health Support Programme and Trust) which he founded and became the first chairman. He was made a lifetime trustee by his fellow trustees and attended all meetings of the Trust up to and including the AGM in December 2014. Additionally Tony was a member of the Committee of Management of the Benevolent Fund from 1969 until 1992, being its chairman from 1985 to 1992. He was awarded an MBE for his services to Dentistry in 1996.

Retirement did not cease Tony’s involvement in sport, he was a founding member of the Medstead Tennis Club and was made a life member having had the club pavilion named after him when he raised funds to have it rebuilt following a fire. Running remained his love and in 2012, aged 92, Tony became one of the oldest torchbearers to run a stage for the Olympic Games Torch tour of the United Kingdom.

This is only a mere precise of the life of a remarkable man, Tony was supported during almost sixty years of married life by his wife Daphne, he is survived by his son and daughter. For those of us who knew Tony and spent time with him it was a joy and a privilege; if you felt down Tony would always give you strength. However the work he did with the Benevolent Fund and his insight in founding the Dentists’ Health Support Programme and Trust has resulted in hundreds of dentists owing Tony a debt of gratitude, having benefited from his resolve to provide help and support for those in need in his chosen profession.

Tony Chivers, a true gentleman and a remarkable credit to the dental profession to which he was proud to belong.

John A D Cameron

Chairman Dentists’ Health Support Trust and Programme

Detail about the programme

The programme provides a number of activities including: responding to enquiries, which may lead to intervention, assessments and treatment pathways followed by ongoing monitoring and support. This support is extended to families and colleagues of the dental professional in difficulty. A vital role is that of case-management where the coordinators take responsibility for liaison between health and other professionals involved in the dental professional’s treatment/support. Another essential component of our role is to educate and raise awareness within the profession regarding the reality of mental illness and addiction issues among members of the profession. All enquiries are logged in a data gatherer from which data can be extracted and examined, allowing us to objectively consider patterns of behaviour and presenting conditions within the dental profession.

“Dentists’ Health Support Programme (DHSP) is a well run, effective programme which offers dentists a service which addresses urgent needs which are seldom met, in time, by other services.”

Dr. Douglas Fowlie, Consultant Psychiatrist


In 2013, a broad analysis of the data gathered between June 2008 and December 2012 was undertaken by Rory O’Connor and Alison Cameron, (MSc Clinical research). This is currently being reviewed by the Trustees. This work will allow the Trust to research the effectiveness of the programme.

Clinical audit and appraisal of the coordinators continues annually as does mentoring, support and supervision for the coordinators. The DHSP, as managed by the DHST, is a busy responsive service which affords the opportunity for dentists in difficulty to make contact with highly experienced experts in the identification and management of addictive and mental health disorders. The DHSP forms an essential component of the response to the heightened illness risk experienced by dentists. Indirectly, the programme underpins good patient care by supporting dental professionals struggling with ill health and returning them to safe, valued practice in an efficient and effective way.

Dr Douglas Fowlie, Consultant Psychiatrist


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