herald

Sunday 17 February 2019

84,000 children waiting for dental treatment 'is truly scandalous' - TD

Tens of thousands of children are in need of dental services
Tens of thousands of children are in need of dental services

At least 84,000 children are waiting for dental services, with half of them on lists for more than a year.

The figures have been described as "truly scandalous".

They include children eligible for routine screening and follow-up treatment as well as those who need orthodontic measures such as braces.

The figures were provided to Fianna Fail by the HSE's nine Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs).

They show, among other things, that at least 84,000 children are on waiting lists for dental assessment or treatment and 42,000 have been waiting more than a year for dental services.

Severe

The HSE provides free orthodontic treatment for patients with the most severe and complex needs.

Routine preventative and treatment services are available to children in primary schools, typically first, second and sixth classes.

Fourth class children are also being seen in some parts of the country. These services are free.

Waiting figures for routine primary school assessments may be far higher.

The CHO that covers Dublin North City and County said 24,000 primary schoolchildren were eligible for screening appointments in second, fourth and sixth classes.

It said that due to staff shortages, some of these children cannot be offered an appointment but did not say how many.

Fianna Fail's children spokesperson Anne Rabbitte said the number waiting for dental care, and the length of time they are on lists is "truly scandalous".

"The system appears to be completely haphazard, with some children not even receiving an appointment in their targeted school year," she said.

A statement from the HSE said emergency relief of pain, infection and trauma is available to all children at local HSE dental clinics on a same day or following day basis. It said around 70,000 children present each year under such circumstances.

It also said nearly one million children up to and including 15-years-old are eligible for free dental services.

The HSE said the number of dentists and consultant and specialist orthodontists employed by the HSE increased last year.

Tallaght mum-of-four Teresa Ross, who is set to pay €6,500 for braces for daughters Holly (18) and Lucy (13), said the Department of Health should provide free orthodontic dental care for all young people.

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