Laois Councillors have slammed the lack of Orthodontic services in the county, and are planning to meet Health Minister Leo Varadkar if nothing improves.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald got her teeth into the issue at the February council meeting.
“It is a farce to say we have a service. The amount of people that come to me, and are waiting 7, 8, 9 years.When I started in politics this was a huge issue, then it improved, now it’s gone back fifty years,” she said.
Category 5 cases are waiting up to seven years for treatment she said, but slightly less severe category 4 cases are waing a full decade.
“People can’t afford to pay privately, and this is causing distress to youngsters, it is a serious problem,” she said.
Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley agreed the situation was “absolutely chronic” with the waiting list steadily growing since the last Laois HSE orthodontist left in 2012.
Children are leaving primary school without even one of the two dental checks they are entitled to, said Cllr Padraig Fleming.
“People are growing up with crooked teeth, knocking back their confidence. The problem now is the waiting list is so long, one person coming in won’t solve it. The only people getting work done are the people able to pay for it” he said.
“A service is there but it’s lip service,” said Cllr Willie Aird.
A delegation of councillors will attend the next Health Forum meeting to push for a new orthodontist.
“If that doesn’t work we should continue and meet the Minister to discuss this crisis in Laois,” said Cllr Fitzgerald.
Laois children are being treated insists HSE Midlands, who have clinics in Portlaoise, Tullamore, Longford and Athlone.
“There is currently the equivalent of 1 Whole Time Equivalent providing Orthodontic services to children in Portlaoise and Tullamore clinics.
Children are availing of Orthodontic services in Laois/Offaly at present. In Laois/Offaly in 2014 there were 695 children assessed for orthodontic treatment, 154 children commenced orthodontic treatment and 823 children are currently in active treatment,” a statement said.
They say the post for a Laois consultant orthodontist has been advertised “several times but with no suitable applicants”.
“The HSE is aware of the challenges being experienced by service users endeavouring to access orthodontic services in the Midlands. Every effort is being made to reduce waiting times for children and to ensure that those in most need are prioritised,” the HSE said.
Two new dentists are starting shortly.
“There will be two new dentists commencing in which should improve service provision,” the HSE said.