An NHS trust is investigating after a man was denied dental treatment because he lives outside West Sussex, leaving him in ‘absolute agony’ for days.
Derek Collings said he was unable to sleep or eat for four days after his tooth suddenly split.
It happened late on Friday, October 6, while electrician Derek was working in the Chichester area.
He says after calling 111, an NHS England advisor told him to visit his nearest NHS emergency dentists, The Jubilee Dental Centre, located at St Richard’s Hospital.
“When I arrived I was told ‘that must be really painful’ and it looked like they would treat me,” Derek said.
“Then they asked where I was from and when I told them Gosport I was told ‘oh no, sorry we can’t treat you if you’re not from West Sussex’.
“I was clearly in agony and said that 111 had told me to come there but they just refused to help me.”
Derek was then forced to go to St Richard’s A&E, run by a different trust, for pain management until 3am.
He said he was unable to find an emergency dentists all weekend despite countless calls, hardly slept or ate and the pain was so severe he had to sip warm water from the other side of his mouth.
“I was in absolute agony for days, I will never forget that pain it was that bad,” he said.
“I was treated like some travelling NHS tourist, it was disgusting.
Derek says the tooth became infected and it took until Monday before he was eventually treated by an NHS dentists in Hampshire.
Jubilee Dental Centre is run by the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.
A spokesperson said: “We are very sorry to hear that this patient had such difficulty finding treatment for his broken tooth.
“We can confirm that we have received a complaint which we take very seriously.
“We are now undertaking a formal internal investigation and it wouldn’t therefore be appropriate for us to say any more until that is finished.
“We have spoken to Mr Collings and will be keeping him updated.”
Mr Collings added: “I’ve been discriminated against because of where I live, it’s outrageous.
“I happily pay a big part of my wage to the NHS but it’s called the National Health Service not a members-only-club.
“If you broke your leg you wouldn’t expect the ambulance service to turn you away if you don’t live there so why would a dentists?”