File photo: A local senator says children cannot and should be left waiting
Almost 1,900 children in the south-east have been waiting for more than a year for orthodontic care, a local senator has said.
Fianna Fáil Senator Jennifer Murnane O’Connor has said that while the reintroduction of certain free dental procedures under the PRSI scheme is welcome, the Government 'spin' cannot hide the numbers.
“Information received by Fianna Fáil at a recent Oireachtas healthcare committee shows that there are 1879 children in counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford waiting longer than 12 months for treatment," she said.
“Included in this cohort are 41 children who have been waiting longer than four years for treatment. These children have been assessed by HSE orthodontics as having dental issues at Grade IV or V. This means that a skilled professional has recommended that they require treatment.
“Of the 1879 children in the region waiting, 1003 of them have been assessed as being Grade V. Patients with Grade V status are in some cases those children requiring treatment due to having cleft lips and damaged palates.
“How is it acceptable to have them waiting so long for such necessary treatment?
“Government Ministers can shout all they like about free scales and polishes but until they end the scandalous situation of children waiting such long periods of time for treatment, they have nothing to be proud of.
“These children cannot and should be left waiting. Early treatment delivers better dental health. For those with cleft lips and damaged palates, every extra week they wait adds to the risk of further damage to their speech."
“In the long term, the State must commit to increasing capacity in the dental service to ensure that no child waits longer than six months for treatment,” concluded Murnane O’Connor.