Children who need vital dental treatment from the orthodontist could be waiting at least two years for the treatment. Parents are now considering taking their children to other counties in the face of a two year waiting list locally for the service.
A Rathdowney schoolboy who was told in second class that he would need braces, will now begin secondary school without even being assessed by the orthodontist.
“We knew from when he was seen by the dentist in second class that he would probably need braces, but he wouldn’t be seen again until he was in sixth class,” his distraught mother said this week. “He was seen in October 2010 by the dentist in Rathdowney and we were told that he definitely needed braces. We went on the waiting list in January of this year and when I rang about the assessment I was told that it would be at least a year and a half. It will probably be another year before he gets braces. He will be at least 15 by the time he gets the treatment he needs now.
“It would be around €4,500 to get the braces, but we can’t afford this. My daughter will need braces too. We’re at a dead end.” The Rathdowney parent said she was waiting to hear if it was possible to transfer to another county that has a shorter waiting list.
“I would travel anywhere if it meant that he got seen to. He does need braces, so it’s not a case that he will be assessed and then told he doesn’t need them. This is probably going to end up costing him money as an adult,” she said.
She has wriiten to both the Minister for Health and the local orthodontist, but has not had any response so far.
A Ballyadams mother, whose son is also on the waiting list said she was shocked to find out that they were only dealing with referrals from November 2009 now.
“I was told that the two dentists are finishing up and they are not taking on anymore patients. There is only one orthodontist for the county and they have a new position in Cork, but they can’t leave Laois until that position is filled.
“They’re winding down their client list and they’re only seeing existing patients, no new people are being brought in. There used to be a Saturday surgery that sped things up, but that was cut.
“I nearly died of shock when I heard how long the list was,” she said, adding that her son could be as old as 15 or 16 before he sees the orthodontist.
Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley said the situation was nothing short of a scandal. “For the past year and a half the service is almost non-existent and Laois now has no full time consultant in place.”
Deputy Stanley said the lack of proper services was causing huge difficulties for families. “In many cases the child is not even assessed, never mind getting the necessary treatment. Some low income families are being left with no option but to borrow money and bring their children to private clinics.
“The importance of children receiving the appropriate treatment at the correct point in their development is a must. The Government and HSE cannot claim to be helpless regarding this issue, as the overall amount we spend on health per person is comparable to other European countries that have a first class service and is completely free.
Deputy Stanley said the embargo on public sector recruitment does not apply tocConsultants that would provide orthodontic treatment.
In response the HSE said a management meeting took place place yesterday (Tuesday) to discuss service provision in this area.