A training graduate dentist has switched her work from Karachi in Pakistan to spend her first Christmas in Hartlepool and to see in her first New Year in the town.

Michelle Safavi, 30, is now working alongside Dr Caroline Jackson in the three Hartlepool Dental and Implant Centres.

Dr Jackson said: “When dentists qualify from outside the UK they must do a year of validation in a specially chosen practice working under a mentor/trainer, before they can gain the NHS Performer Number.

“Michelle is our Performers List Validation by Experience (PLVE) in Hartlepool.

“There are more than 900 oversees graduates trying to find a PVLE position in England. Practices do not receive any funding for this training and there aren’t many Practices willing to provide it.

“Many practices charge the PVLE dentist up to £24,000 for the year, but we as a practice have chosen not to charge and we are happy to give her time and experience for free.

“The North-East is desperately short of dentists, and recruitment is a major issue.’’

Michelle said: “I have trained as a Dentist in Karachi. My mum is from Nuneaton and I have been lucky enough to enjoy growing up in two countries.

“I am loving my work and as I live on the Marina and would now like to add sailing to my wish list during my time in Hartlepool!

“The locals are really friendly and I can only speak highly of the area. A lot of my friends have been waiting for the opportunity to move to a major city to finish training – but after just a few days in Hartlepool I was convinced that I had made the correct choice.’’

She added: ‘’I'm looking forward to building my career here and I am excited about joining such a fabulous team at the practice. Everyone has been very welcoming and it already feels like home. Having a supportive mentor to guide me through the NHS journey of my career is vital”

Caroline added: “I was born and brought up in Guisborough and although I went to University in Manchester, I always knew that I would return to the North-East once I graduated.

“I needed to think outside of the box to grow our team further, which is why I decided to advertise for a PVLE. We were inundated with applications.

“It was important for me to find someone who would be supportive of the positive ethos we are developing.

“I made the decision not to charge Michelle for her training, prioritising getting the right person rather than the person who can afford to pay the most for their training.

“I needed someone who would complement the team I’m building and Michelle is a perfect fit. She started seeing and treating patients at the beginning of December and I’m so impressed by the high calibre of work she has produced, the patients and staff love her and it feels like she’s always been with us.

“I am passionate about the North-East and improving patient access by increasing the number of dentists in our area.’’