"Catch 22"

About: Royal Liverpool University Dental Hospital

I recently returned home to live in the UK having been abroad for the last 3 years. Literally days before my move I went to my dentist and was told I had a large abscess on one of my teeth which required urgent attention but because I was in the middle of moving there was nothing I could do about it. I went on to the Liverpool Dental Hospital web page and read that patients with an abscess could self refer as for emergency treatment. So immediately I arrived back here in the UK I presented myself at the DH, by this time the abscess had erupted through my gum, was very visible and very painful. I am allergic to NSAID analgesics so dealing with the pain is difficult for me. I was seen by the triage nurse who told me there was nothing the hospital could do without a referral from a dentist, I explained I had only just moved back and was given a list of NHS dentist to contact, which I did, and an appointment made for the next day at this dentist. The dentist saw me, said there was nothing they could do apart from prescribe antibiotics and refer me to the Dental Hospital for emergency treatment as I needed surgery. Four weeks later having heard nothing I contacted the Dental Hospital and asked if the referral had been made. I was told it had been and that there is a sixteen week waiting list. I explained I have an abscess, that it is growing daily, that I've now had 3 courses of antibiotics with nil affect and that I can not take painkillers. I was told that the hospital could not see me now as I have a dentist and I would have to wait my turn! So in a nutshell, they wouldn't see me because I didn't have a dentist, then they wouldn't see me because I did have one. This in spite of the fact that on their web site it clearly states that an abscess is considered an emergency and will be dealt with in outpatients. Meanwhile my abscess continues to grow, it is extremely painful, I can neither sleep or eat properly. The dentist I saw before I returned to the UK even said it cold be possible cancer, what am I supposed to do?

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Response from Royal Liverpool University Dental Hospital

We are sorry to hear of your extreme discomfort. Please contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service who may be able to help you. They can be contacted by emailing pals@rlbuht.nhs.uk or by calling 0151 706 4903/2265.