Judge set to decide whether refugee should have NHS dental surgery

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A judge in a specialist court has been asked to decide whether a mentally-ill Syrian refugee who is thought to have watched torturers pull out his brother’s teeth should undergo major NHS dental surgery.

Dentists say the man, who is in his thirties, needs to have at least 20 of his 31 teeth taken out under general anaesthetic. They say the remaining 11 may also have to be removed.

Mr Justice Hayden began analysing the case at a hearing in the Court of Protection, where judges examine issues relating to people who lack the mental capacity to make decisions, in London on Friday.

He has ruled that the man, who lives with his family and travelled to England after escaping war-torn Syria and spending four years in a Lebanese refugee camp, cannot be identified.

Bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which is based in Stockton-on-Tees, have responsibility for the man’s care and have asked the judge to make decisions about dental treatment.

Barrister Claire Watson, who is representing the trust, told the judge that the man had a significant learning disability.

He had arrived in England with his family under a resettlement programme.

She said the family had left Syria after their home was bombed.

“It is reported that whilst in Syria he witnessed the torture of his brother and that torture involved the extraction of teeth,” she said.

“He also witnessed the death of another brother in a car bomb attack.”

She said he did not speak English and in any event had “limited verbal communication”.

Specialists agreed that 20 teeth needed to be taken out under general anaesthetic because of poor dental health.

She said decisions had yet to be taken about the remaining 11 teeth.

The hearing continues.

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