£500 bank loan from Suffolk man after finding no NHS dentist
6:30 a.m. October 1, 2022
A Bury St Edmunds man desperately suffering from a ‘golf ball sized’ abscess caused by a compacted wisdom tooth has taken a bank loan to cover the cost of £500 of private dental treatment after his search for an NHS dentist proved fruitless.
Darren Turner was speaking as figures from the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed that the district of Mid Suffolk, neighboring Bury, had one of the lowest numbers of NHS dentists in England, with just 0.067 dentists to 1 000 inhabitants.
The father-of-two twice went to the A&E ward at West Suffolk Hospital in agony, only to be told there were no dentists available to treat him, while a Google search for local NHS care was also futile.
In the end, the postman, who does not drive, had to travel 30 miles to Cambridge for the private treatment.
He said: ‘I had terrible toothaches which got progressively worse over the months and took over the counter medication to try to control the pain.
“I went to West Suffolk Hospital but they said they had no dentists and it got to the point where I had a golf ball sized lump on my jaw.
“When I called 111 they said I needed to be seen immediately but A&E told me they couldn’t treat me as they had no dentists there.”
Instead, he was given antibiotics to ease the swelling, which helped the pain subside, but within weeks the abscess ‘came back with a vengeance’, forcing him to go the private route. .
He said the lack of local NHS dentistry was making life particularly difficult for people on low incomes who were already struggling with the cost of living crisis caused by spiraling inflation.
He knew some people who drank alcohol to numb the pain caused by dental problems.
“With the cost of living crisis, I find it difficult to feed my children’s bellies and keep the house warm in the winter.
“I now have to choose between having pain and paying my bills, so it literally comes down to a choice between ‘do I take care of my children or do I fix my pain?’ and any parent will put their child first, regardless of their pain,” Mr. Turner said.