Injured cyclist angry he had to pay NHS to repair his teeth
A cyclist who ended up in hospital with serious facial injuries following a collision with a car, wants to know why he has been forced to pay for part of his treatment.
Daniel Duckett was treated in the Ulster Hospital after the accident in east Belfast last month left him unconscious.
He was treated in hospital for cuts to his lips and damage to his front teeth.
But while the Dundonald hospital treated his lacerated mouth for free, Mr Duckett was asked to pay a dentist to repair the damage to his teeth.
"(The crash) resulted in eight stitches in my upper lip, three in my lower lip and a temporary brace across my front teeth because one was knocked out of place and two others were loose," he said.
Mr Duckett, who is from Alabama in the US but has been living and working in Belfast for seven years, said he assumed that because of the facial trauma, the NHS would cover the bill.
"I was wrong," he added. "When it came to sorting out my two dead teeth, I was charged a hefty £130 for two root canals and to replace part of a broken tooth that had already been root-filled.
"The NHS determined that it was only right to extract money from me even though I didn't choose to have this work done. It was necessary to save the integrity of the teeth and to prevent them from turning black."
Daniel, who settled here with his partner from Northern Ireland, said he has full residency status and pays taxes like anyone else.
"Why is it the NHS in Northern Ireland sees fit to pay for my medical treatment but don't consider the affected teeth as a directly related medical issue?" he asked. "Why is it that the pain in my jaw is suddenly an issue for the oral surgeon and not my dentist? What is this fragmented service that is the result of one incident, and why are there separate charges for one and none for the other?"
He said that following research he believed that in other areas of the UK follow-up dentistry due to trauma was covered by free treatment.
Information on NI Direct's website regarding health service dental charges lists a number of exemptions if a person is "a hospital inpatient and the treatment is carried out by a hospital dentist" as well as "a hospital dental service out-patient".
Daniel believes he fits the bill to be exempt from paying.
The Belfast Telegraph sought clarity from the Department of Health on the subject of fee exemptions for dental trauma, but received no response.