Man, 64, who couldn’t get a dental appointment on the NHS is diagnosed with cancer after paying ?50 to go private
After being paid ?50 to go private after being unable to secure a dentist appointment on the NHS, a 64-year-old man was diagnosed with cancer.
Ray, a former NHS worker, had a sore and swollen jaw last winter, which he blamed on having just had a tooth out.
When the discomfort persisted, he phoned his dentist, only to be told that there were already 800 individuals on the waiting list. However, if he paid to go private, he might have an appointment within a week, according to the clinic.
After paying the money for the consultation, a tumor was spotted on an x-ray and Ray, from ‘dental desert’ Durham, was rushed to hospital.
Ray said if he hadn’t paid to go private he might not have lived today.
Ray, a retired NHS worker, suffered from a painful and swollen jaw last winter, which he attributed to having had a tooth removed recently
This graph shows the number of dentists carrying out NHS activities each year, the figure fell sharply during the Covid pandemic but has recovered slightly to just over 24,000 according to the latest data
After having a tooth extracted last year, the swelling that Ray thought was due to the surgery persisted and by Christmas he was struggling to eat.
After struggling to get an NHS dental appointment, Ray shared The northern echo: ‘We’re lucky we could afford it.
“Even if we should have saved over time, it might have been too late.”
It was during the private appointment on January 26 that the tumor was diagnosed as cancerous and on February 14 he underwent life-saving surgery.
During a grueling 16-hour surgery, surgeons removed part of Ray’s jaw to get to the tumor. A new jaw was formed from bone and muscle from his leg and a skin graft was taken.
How much does NHS dentistry cost?
There are 3 NHS loading bands:
Band 1: ?23.80
Covers an examination, diagnosis and advice. If necessary, there are also X-rays, a scale and polish, and a schedule for further treatment.
Band 2: ?65.20
Covers all treatments from Band 1, plus additional treatments such as fillings, root canal treatments and tooth extraction.
Band 3: ?282.80
Includes all treatments from bands 1 and 2, plus more complex procedures, such as crowns, dentures and bridges.
By comparison, check-ups can cost between ?20 and ?120 from private dentists, according to Which?.
Dentures and bridges can also cost up to ?2,520, the consumer watchdog says.
It is unclear what cancer Ray was diagnosed with. But oral cancer, which affects 8,300 Britons and 54,000 Americans each year, can cause persistent pain, discomfort and swelling in the mouth that won’t go away.
Ray spent six weeks in the hospital after his surgery before starting weekly radiotherapy sessions. Thursday was his last treatment day.
He can now only eat and drink and has a tube in his stomach to give him the nutrients he needs, but he’s thankful he was lucky enough to be seen in private.
“If I couldn’t afford to go private, maybe I wouldn’t be here telling my story,” Ray added.
‘It doesn’t seem like much, but some people wouldn’t be able to pay ?50 for a private appointment and wouldn’t be as lucky as me. Making an appointment quickly can make all the difference.’
Around 11 million people in England failed to get an NHS dentist appointment last year, according to shocking data from the British Dental Association.
Nationally, by early 2023 there was only one NHS dental practice for every 4,975 people.
Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy spoke about Ray’s case during the Prime Minister’s questions and led a debate on NHS Dentistry last week.
She told the Echo, ?Ray’s story captures the harsh realities of living in a tooth desert.
‘Since the pandemic, over 1,000 dentists have left the NHS – NHS dentistry now exists on paper, but not in practice.
?If Ray hadn’t been able to afford private treatment, he might not be here today. It is morally wrong for someone to be put in that position, but affordable dental care continues to decay before our very eyes.?