Homes for Ukraine refugee unable to access basic dental care in Shrewsbury

1 Dec 2022
Natalia Vlasiuk who is the focus of this article about lack of NHS dentists

While the Covid pandemic continued to threatened the nation’s health, and Russian troops continued to occupy the Crimea region, Natalia did not anticipate Putin’s aggression and attacks on her beautiful city of Kiev when they started in February.

Natalia and her family (mother, sister and niece) lived under constant threat and fear of bombardment in Kiev. She made the difficult decision to leave her life behind and come to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Since then, Natalia has settled into her new life with her hosts Deborah and Rob Udakis in Bicton Heath, who consider her part of their family. Natalia has tried to find work, and regularly spends time at the Community Refugee Hub in the Riverside where she meets with other Ukrainian refugees and she attends regular English and drawing lessons.

Natalia, like many others in Shrewsbury, is in need of dental treatment. She has particularly sensitive teeth and experiences pain consistently. She was fortunate to access free NHS dental treatment earlier this year but the dental practice has since informed her that she will need to pay for any future treatment - with costs likely to be in the hundreds.

Only 35.4% of adults in Shropshire were able to secure an appointment with an NHS dentist in the past two years. This is down from 48.3% who saw an NHS dentist in the two years up to 2018.

Alex Wagner is a local health campaigner and councillor for the Bicton Heath area where Natalia, Rob and Deborah live. He said: “Natalia’s case is yet another in a string of examples where NHS care in Shrewsbury is not up to scratch. It is essentially impossible to access dental care unless you have the means to pay for it - this is plainly wrong, and against the founding principles of the National Health Service.

We are a kind and compassionate country, and the Homes for Ukraine scheme has been a great example of that in action. It is a dire shame that due to the state of local healthcare, both Natalia and her host family are being put in a really tough position.

If anyone reading this can help, please get in touch with me and I will put you in touch with Rob, Deborah and Natalia.”

You can contact Councillor Alex Wagner on

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