CHILDREN in Laois are not being checked by a HSE dentist until they are in 6th class, with some not receiving their first check-up until they are already in secondary school.
The HSE have told Laois TD Sean Fleming that staff shortages have forced them to cut the service,
“In a follow up letter from the HSE I have been told that due to unforeseen staff shortages and an inability to recruit staff only children in 6th class in Laois are being targeted for their first routine dental check. These children are being discriminated against because of their location,” says Dep Fleming, who says he has demanded that the HSE take immediate action to provide proper dental treatment for children in primary schools in Laois.
The first dental check all over Ireland is carried out on children between 6 and 8 years of age. However, Laois is one of only four counties in the entire country that this does not happen. Children in Laois only get their first dental check when they are in 6th class. Before that age, only children who are in pain will be seen by the HSE dentist.
Dep Fleming suggests that private dentists could be paid by the HSE to cover the staff shortage.
“The HSE in the midland region (needs to) get its act together and ensure the children in their area receive the same service aschildren in the rest of the country. If necessary dentists in neighbouring counties should be brought in to deal with this until the problem is solved. Alternatively the HSE should use the money they are saving by not employing their own staff to pay dentists in private practise to do this work immediately,” he suggests.
Meanwhile, Charlie Flanagan TD has welcomed confirmation from the HSE that approval has been given to replace the consultant orthodontist serving Laois and Offaly.
“I have been informed by the HSE that approval has been given to support a replacement. I have been in contact with the HSE on this issue before and have expressed my concerns at the lengthy waiting lists for children who need vital treatment in the county.
Dep Flanagan said the Minister for State Alex White has informed him that the HSE has commenced an independent review of orthodontic services which will consider a number of service provision models.
The Laois Offaly TD said the outcome of this review will give guidance as to what changes will be desirable to provide the best possible model of care delivery.