Dental crisis: Derry OAP (78) tried to extract own teeth with pliers

SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood pictured outside his constituency office at Northside Shopping Centre. 1301JM06
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood pictured outside his constituency office at Northside Shopping Centre. 1301JM06

A Derry politician has described the ordeal of a pensioner who attempted to remove his own teeth with pliers, as harrowing.

The 78-year-old man, who does not want to be identified, says he has been unable to get dental treatment despite suffering severe toothache for the past three months.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ yesterday, the cityside pensioner explained: “I can’t afford the private health care costs of £1000. I’m in so much pain that I took pliers to my mouth on Saturday. I couldn’t budge the teeth though.”

The OAP’s plight has been taken up by Foyle SDLP Assembly Member Colum Eastwood who is raising it personally with the Health Minister, Edwin Poots.

The pensioner claims an appointment was only belatedly arranged by the Western Health Trust after he asked the ‘Journal’ to highlight his predicament.

“The Trust contacted me today (Monday) in order to offer me a consultation appointment on Friday. I won’t get any treatment then. This just happened to be on the same day I went to the press. The Trust informed me on Friday that it would be December before I would get a consultation.”

SDLP MLA, Colum Eastwood, said: “On learning of this issue I immediately contacted the Western Trust. I was informed that the Trust is struggling to deliver dental services and that current demand is outstripping capacity. I was also informed that the Trust has allocated additional funding to purchase services from the private sector.

“I understand that the Trust has now agreed to deliver his treatment via the private sector. He has endured quite a lot and I’m glad that this harrowing experience is finally coming to an end. Given the pain and anguish he has suffered recently, I feel it only right that the Trust prioritise his treatment.

“I further call on the Western Trust to review staffing levels in the dental department to ensure that there is no repetition of this catalogue of events.”

Mr. Eastwood is also to discuss the issue of Altnagelvin’s dentistry waiting lists with Health Minister Edwin Poots.

The Trust were asked to comment on the pensioner’s case and dentistry waiting lists, but have yet to respond.