06 Jul 2022

1,500 Laois children stuck on dental waiting list is 'deeply alarming'

1,500 Laois children stuck on dental waiting list is 'deeply alarming'

Independent TD for Laois-Offaly Carol Nolan has described the numbers of primary school age children who are still waiting for their routine 2nd and 6th class dental check-up as deeply alarming.

Deputy Nolan was speaking after the HSE confirmed that there are 1,560 sixth class children in Laois on the dental waiting list while there are 1,312 sixth class children waiting in Offaly:

“This is a persistent issue of concern for many parents, and indeed children, in Laois-Offaly,” Deputy Nolan stated.

“In fact, one of the most striking things about the information supplied by the HSE is that they have no data on the number of 2nd class children in either county who are waiting for a routine dental check-up," she said.

The TD said this means that the 2,872 children that we do know are on the list is clearly a severe under-calculation.

"I have repeatedly raised these, and other dental services related matters at the highest levels with both the Taoiseach and the HSE.

"We know there are currently only 48 remaining dental practices across the Midlands who operate within the medical card treatment scheme and that a mere 13 of these are operating within counties Laois and Offaly.

"Many of these practices have been unable to take on any additional patients as they simply do not have the capacity to meet the ever-increasing demand. This situation is made worse by the fact that there are currently no new applications being processed to join the Dental Treatment Scheme within the entire HSE dental Midlands area," she said.

Dep Nolan said it is clear that the current contractual model is one that dentists feel they can no longer operate within.

"That has to change. We need to ask why dentists are leaving the service in their droves and then tackle those causes immediately in order to stop the exodus from the treatment schemes.

"Failure to tackle the dental problems that our children may be experiencing not only means that they will have an increased likelihood of experiencing dental pain and unnecessary extractions, it  also means that we are just adding to the ever expanding list of people who may one day need more extensive treatment," she said.

She called on the HSE and the Minister for Health to engage with the Irish Dental Association, who she said want to resolved the core issues affecting the collapse in service.

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