Brit flees to Ukraine for dental treatment after failing to get NHS appointment
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A British man travelled all the way to war-torn Ukraine to have some dental work done because he couldn’t manage to get an appointment on the NHS.
Richard Howe, who used to live in Kyiv before the war broke out last year, was in a lot of pain with his tooth, but couldn’t get into anywhere in the UK for treatment.
The 58-year-old decided that his only option was to fly over to Ukraine to get sorted out, which he eventually did at his old dental practice.
Howe developed an absess underneath his tooth last month, which – as anyone who has had one knows – can cause a serious amount of pain and discomfort.
He tried to get an appointment at his local NHS dentist, but was told that his best option was to take things private at great financial cost.
Instead, he returned back to the country he left behind – now a war zone - to get the work done cheaper - even with travel costs - as well as some other work on top.
In the end, the work – including the travel costs to get to Kyiv – was half the price of what it would have been here in the UK.
The father of three, who is from Ely in Cambridgeshire, explained: "I was in loads of pain, but I was told outright there was no chance of me getting an appointment with the NHS.
"So, I got one in Ukraine, straight away, for a fraction of the cost. It just shows how much of a mess NHS dental care is over here right now."
Richard, whose wife is Ukrainian, became increasingly frustrated with the lack of opportunity to get the work done on the NHS.
He was quoted a minimum of £875, plus a £75 emergency fee, to get the job done privately.
Richard and his wife had left Kyiv last year just before Putin’s invasion, but he still had some contacts for the Clinic of Modern Dentistry, where he used to go before they left.
So, when they said that they’d see him immediately, he flew off to Poland on February 28, catching a 13 hour train to Kyiv, and within a week, he’d had the absess drained, some extra work including three root canals and a filling, done for just £220.
He continued: "I used to go to them when I lived in Kyiv, so I trusted that they are a good practice.
"The dentist there said he'd happily see me, so I flew to Lublin and got a very long train to Kyiv.
"The travel cost me £100 each way in total, but because I have a house over there, accommodation was free.
"When I arrived at the clinic, they drained the abscess, killed the infected roots and cleaned up around my tooth.
"I took the opportunity to have a full check-up while I was there, and found out I needed root canal and a filling - so he did that for me to.
"And, when I saw the bill, I knew it had been worth it."
The stay wasn’t without danger, however, with air raid sirens going off every day he was there.
There’s also a night-time curfew in place, but ultimately Richard got back OK.
His visit rammed home the reality of life for the Ukrainians who have remained, but also the plight of those who have left.
He said: "Kyiv was a lot quieter than it was before, and there were anti-tank defences lined across the streets ready to be moved at a moments notice.
"Air sirens went off around two to three times a day, but the locals are pretty used to it by now, so they were quite calm.
"It's crazy that we've invited Ukrainian nationals to take refuge in the UK, but if they have a tooth problem, they have zero chance of being seen by an NHS dentist.
"But over there, anyone can walk in off the street and be seen straight away, whatever their nationality - and the country is literally a war zone. It's very backwards!"