A pensioner who spent years serving his queen and country is angry after being told he can’t see an NHS dentist for emergency treatment – but could be seen in a few days if he paid for private treatment.
Pensioner Thomas ‘Taffy’ Edwards (79) who was a firefighter in the RAF, tried to see an NHS dentist at Spalding’s Johnson Hospital only to be told they were “overwhelmed” with NHS patients, but he could see the on-site private dentist if he was willing to pay the prices.
He said: “I can’t get to see an NHS dentist in Spalding, Holbeach or Long Sutton, yet if I want to go private I’ve been told I could be seen in a few days.
“I am just angry that as someone who has paid my taxes that I can’t be seen under the National Health Service.
“The pain is in the top of my mouth. I’ve been struggling to eat and have lost about half a stone. I had an issue with a tooth about five years ago which was filled in through the NHS at the Johnson, but now when I’ve been back they say they are full.”
He has since again contacted NHS emergency phoneline 111 and they have managed to find him an NHS dentist in Boston – a round trip of an hour from his home in Gedney Drove End.
Widower Mr Edwards added: “There just doesn’t seem to be enough dentists.
“There are more people coming into the area but not enough services. I was absolutely astounded that Johnson Hospital told me they are overwhelmed with NHS patients, yet they have a private dentist on-site who could see me in a few days.
“To be seen by a private dentist can be £80, £90. I’m on a £171 a week pension and I’ve got my car tax and insurance to pay.
“I don’t drink or smoke and I never used to have to see the doctor. But if you don’t go to see your dentist regularly you get taken off the register.
“It seems when you want to see an NHS dentist the attitude is that if you haven’t registered with us then it’s tough luck. To go to Boston is a long way for me.
“Things in our country seem to be getting worse, not better.
• We contacted NHS England in Lincolnshire and its head of primary care Di Pegg released the following statement:
“There are currently seven dental practices across Lincolnshire providing extended hours for people requiring urgent dental treatment or without a regular dentist.
“Depending on the treatment they require, patients may be asked to return within the next 24 to 48 hours or come back later for a routine appointment. “If a practice has no available appointments they will need to make a clinical judgement as to which patients should receive priority based on their individual needs.
“We recognise that the appropriate treatment may not always be available close to people’s homes and, with this in mind, NHS England has recently completed a review of dental care in Lincolnshire. We are now in the process of procuring new services so that local people can benefit from improved access to both routine and urgent, out-of-hours dental treatment. This review has identified Spalding as a priority area for further service provision.
“Although we are unable to comment on individual cases, NHS England would be happy for the patient to contact our local office about his experience so his concerns can be investigated.”