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Thatcham woman's four-week dental abscess hell during coronavirus lockdown

"I’ve never known pain like it in my life...I can’t be the only one suffering"

John Garvey

John Garvey


01635 886628

Woman's four-week dental abscess hell

A WOMAN has claimed she suffered weeks of torment as a dental abscess went untreated during the coronavirus lockdown.

Despite collapsing with a consequent fever and breathing difficulties, the Thatcham 71-year-old said she pleaded in vain for the tooth causing the problem to be removed.

Instead, said mother-of-three Dorothy Prowse, she was repeatedly passed back and forth between doctors, dentists and NHS helplines, but was continually refused emergency treatment..

NHS advice states “you should see a dentist as soon as possible” and recommends a visit to a hospital accident and emergency department “if you’re having difficulty breathing or swallowing, or there’s swelling around your eye or neck”.

Ms Prowse said she suffered all those symptoms, as well as agonising pain.

Her ordeal began on March 27 when she reportedly was refused antibiotics from her regular dentist.

She said: “He told me they had been ordered to close and he couldn’t help me.”

Her GP meanwhile said only a dentist could prescribe for her and suggested she ring the NHS 111 helpline.

Ms Prowse said: “They informed me that no dentist would be able to remove a tooth during the current lockdown.

“I was in tears with the pain; my jaw swelled up and I started having breathing difficulties.”

Eventually, said Ms Prowse, a dentist left a prescription for her to collect but, she added: “They must have been the wrong antibiotics; after another week I was in worse pain than ever and worried about dying from sepsis.”

When she collapsed in her garden, she said, neighbours called an ambulance.

But Ms Prowse said she was again told no dental help was available.

Ms Prowse said a family member eventually found a private dentist who removed the tooth for her, and added: “I don’t know whether they were breaking the rules or not but I couldn’t have gone on any further.

“I’ve never known pain like it in my life.

“I can’t be the only one suffering.”

The NHS has issued guidance to healthcare trusts which states that local Urgent Dental Care (UDC) systems should be put in place to deliver “a clear local message... that routine dental care is not available”.

It advocates “referral, when absolutely necessary and treatment cannot be delayed, to a designated UDC site for a face-to-face consultation and treatment”.

Ms Prowse said this never happened for her.

* HAVE you been suffering from lack of emergency dental care? Email 

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