Thousands on Laois and Offaly HSE child dental service check-up waiting lists
The HSE says it is focused on reducing tackling dental waiting lists which has left nearly 1,700 Laois children getting check-ups in third year of secondary school that should have been done in national school.
The executive also acknowledges that problems with the Dental Treatment Service Scheme for adults has also hit services for children with some 3,000 children in Laois and Offaly waiting for checks.
The HSE's Community Health Organisation issued a statement in response to issues raised by Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley major problems with public dental services in Laois for children and adults.
The HSE statement set out the state of play with school checkups.
"We acknowledge that the 6th class children of counties Laois and Offaly have not yet had their regular 6th class dental examination. The HSE School Dental Scheme waiting list for children currently in 6th class Laois/Offaly is 2821 (Laois – 1681, Offaly- 1140).
"We aim to see the current 6th class children in 1st year secondary school. At the moment our service is targeting 1st year Offaly and 3rd year Laois.
"We continue to explore all options to support children requiring services, and the HSE Dental Service in Laois/Offaly has emergency clinics available in both counties for all children, appointments are by telephone contact only.
"To reduce this waiting list, we have focused our dentists in clinics where there is greatest clinical need, this is regularly reviewed and the service adapted as necessary," it said.
The HSE pointed to Covid-19 as part of the problem.
"We have had many staff who have been redeployed to Covid testing centres during the pandemic and the recent pressures in the last four weeks but thankfully they are returning to us as the pandemic eases," it said.
The HSE added that recruitment is underway.
"All staff vacancies are being filled as they arise and these staff will be focusing on reducing this waiting list over the coming months," it said.
Deputy Stanley said the adult health services is in collapse due to the withdrawal of private dentists from the Dental Treatment Service Scheme in Laois Offaly and elsewhere.
The HSE accepted that there are problems with the scheme that is supposed to deliver free dental care to Medical Card holders.
"We note the reduction in private dentists from the national DTSS scheme, that has occurred across the country and this presents further challenges to the HSE dental service. In cases of emergency, the HSE dental service also has to provide emergency treatment for these adults.
"This has a further impact on the already limited dental resources available for our children with valuable taken clinical time from our targeted school screenings.
"We acknowledge the frustration felt by all parents and guardians of these children. The dental staff continue to put the patient at the core of our service, and are fully committed to providing the best clinical care in as timely a fashion as possible," concluded the statment.
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