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BBC 🔵 Ukrainians returning home to get dental treatment

Natalia Nehriba standing holding her daughter Agnia

A Ukrainian mother living in Wiltshire says she returned to her war-torn country because she could not access NHS dental care.

Natalia Negreba has recently had root canal work done in the city of Dnipro.

The 36-year-old said she was in « excruciating » pain, but could not find NHS dental care or afford to pay for private treatment.

The care board that covers Wiltshire said it had laid on « additional urgent dental care appointments » since 2021.

Dnipro, which is fewer than 100km (62 miles) from the front line, was on the receiving end of a devastating wave of attacks by Russian forces in December.

The Ukrainian air force said it had « never seen so many locations targeted simultaneously » after Russia launched 158 drones and missiles.

Despite the danger the city has faced since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in 2022, Mrs Negriba says she returned with her three-year-old daughter Agnia in July 2023 because she was in so much pain.

A building in Dnipro with a bomb crater with smoke emerging from it

Getty Images

« I started looking for a dentist but I didn’t find any [NHS clinics]. It was very terrible because I took paracetamol and ibuprofen every day. My pain didn’t go away, » she said.

« My friend helped me make an appointment at a private clinic in Corsham but it would have cost ÂŁ800 – which was too much for me, it’s very expensive.

« Dnipro is very dangerous, and I was very worried when I went [back], but my pain was very strong. I could not stay here. »

Mrs Negriba, who moved to Corsham at the start of the war, told the BBC she would often hear air raid alarms when she was in Dnipro, where her treatment cost about ÂŁ150 for a root canal procedure and an implant.

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

Mrs Negriba added: « I had a very long wait, too much. I didn’t find an NHS dentist.

« If I have a new problem with my tooth, I will fly to Ukraine to have it fixed again. »

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

She said other patients have revisited their mother country to get dental care, with some of them having « severe dental problems ».

Two dental professionals treating a patient in Dnipro in Ukraine

Kateryna Lagun

« We’ve either had to pay ourselves for them to receive treatment, or they have gone back to Ukraine – much to our horror – and to some of the really dangerous parts of Ukraine in the east, near the Russian border, because of toothache, » said Mrs Taylor.

She added that she was also supporting another woman who was considering going back to Kharkiv, which is right next to the front line and a place Mrs Taylor considers even more dangerous than Dnipro.

‘Air raids every day’

Kateryna Lagun, Mrs Negriba’s dentist in Dnipro, said she had treated several Ukrainians who had travelled from the UK.

« We have a lot of people coming from outside of Ukraine to get their treatment, » she said.

« Dnipro is quite dangerous because we have a lot of air attacks at night, and up to 15 air raid warnings a day.

« I live really close to the [bombed] factory here and several times I thought it was the end because it [the bombing] was really close to us.

« I guess they do not have much choice in the UK. I heard you have this situation with NHS dentistry and even UK citizens cannot get the proper treatment. »

‘Urgent appointments available’

A spokesperson for the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board said it would not comment on individual cases but that in this case Mrs Negriba may meet the criteria for « an urgent dental or a stabilisation appointment ».

« Since September 2021 we have commissioned additional urgent dental care appointments that people can access by calling NHS111 with an urgent dental need, » they added.

« There are 390 appointments every week across the South West, with 86 urgent dental appointments in Wiltshire each week. »

The board said there were also 750 stabilisation appointments across the South West, which were for people who had a serious but not urgent dental issue.

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

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Related Topics

  • War in Ukraine
  • Corsham
  • Dentistry
  • NHS
  • Ukraine
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