Ukrainians returning home to get dental treatment

  • Matthew Hill
  • West of England health reporter

illustrate, Natalia Nehriba returned to Ukraine with her daughter Agnia in July 2023

A Ukrainian mother living in Wiltshire says she returned to the war-torn country because she had no access to NHS dental care.

Natalia Negreba recently had a root canal treatment in the city of Dnipro.

The 36-year-old said she was in “unbearable” pain but was unable to find NHS dental care or pay for private treatment.

The care board, which covers Wiltshire, said “additional emergency dental care appointments” have been scheduled since 2021.

Dnipro is less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the front line and suffered a devastating attack by Russian forces in December.

Despite the danger the city has faced since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in 2022, Ms Negrba said she returned in July 2023 with her three-year-old daughter Agnia because she was in so much pain.

Image Source, Getty Images

illustrate, Russian troops regularly attack Dnipro with missiles and drones

“I started looking for a dentist but couldn't find one [NHS clinics]. It was very scary because I was taking paracetamol and ibuprofen every day. My pain doesn't go away,” she said.

“My friend booked me into a private clinic in Corsham but it cost £800 – which was too much for me and very expensive.

“Dnipro is very dangerous. I was very worried when I went there. [back], but my pain was very intense. I can't stay here.

Mrs Negreba, who moved to Corsham at the start of the war, told the BBC she often heard air raid sirens while in Dnipro, where her root canal surgery and dental implant treatment cost around £150.

She said she had a friend from Chippenham who also traveled to Dnipro for dental care.

Ms Negreba added: “I've been waiting for a long time, too long. I didn't find an NHS dentist.

“If I develop new problems with my teeth, I’ll fly to Ukraine and have them fixed again.”

Liz Taylor, from Chippenham, runs Ukrainian Bybrook Homes, which supports around 50 Ukrainian refugees living in Wiltshire.

Other patients have returned to their home countries for dental care, some with “serious dental problems,” she said.

Image Source, Katerina Ragon

illustrate, Katerina Ragon says she has been treating patients from the UK at her clinic in Dnipro

“We either have to pay for them to get treatment ourselves, or they go back to Ukraine with toothache – which scares us a lot – and some really dangerous areas in eastern Ukraine close to the Russian border,” Mrs Taylor said.

She added that she was also supporting another woman who was considering returning to Kharkov, which is near the front line and which Mrs Taylor believed was more dangerous than Dnipropetrovsk.

'There are air strikes every day'

Mrs. Negriba's dentist in Dnipro, Katerina Ragon, said she had treated several Ukrainians from Britain.

“We have a lot of people coming from outside Ukraine for treatment,” she said.

“Dnipro is very dangerous because we are constantly under air raids at night, with up to 15 air raid warnings being issued every day.

“I live close to [bombed] There are factories here and a few times I thought this was the end because it [the bombing] It's really close to us.

“I guess they don't have much choice in the UK. I've heard it's the same with NHS dental, where even UK citizens can't get proper treatment.”

“Emergency reservations available”

A spokesman for Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Council said it would not comment on individual cases but in this case Ms Negreba may have been eligible for “urgent dental care”. or stable appointment” standard.

They added: “Since September 2021, we have commissioned additional emergency dental care appointments and people with urgent dental needs can book an appointment by calling NHS111.”

“There are 390 dental appointments per week in the South West, including 86 emergency dental appointments per week in Wiltshire.”

The council said there are also 750 stable appointments available across the South West, specifically for people with serious but non-urgent dental problems.

It said Mrs Negreba should contact the board to discuss her treatment.

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