Thursday, 14 April 1994
Dáil Éireann Debate
72. Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) asked the Minister for Health his views on whether waiting lists in respect of orthodontic treatment as a result of which GMS patients have regularly had to have recourse to private consultants with hardship consequences are acceptable; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): Under the Health Act, orthodontic services are provided by all health boards to persons, including persons who are eligible for GMS services, who are assessed as being in need of such treatment. The service is provided under guidelines issued by my Department which sets out the priority to be given to certain orthodontic conditions. In implementing their statutory remit, health boards apply the services to persons on the basis of the assessments which are initiated through the national school dental programmes and having regard to the time at which the person was assessed. In the light of the needs of the orthodontic services a development plan for the health board orthodontic services has been prepared for implementation over the period of the Programme for Government.
Health boards have already made considerable progress in implementing improvements in services. A number of health boards have been successful in recruiting consultant orthodontists. Apart from their own direct clinical involvement the consultant orthodontists are putting in place, or already have in place, training programmes in orthodontics for health board dental surgeons which will enable them to provide orthodontic treatment at secondary care level under the overall direction and supervision of the consultant orthodontist. This will enable health boards to significantly increase existing service levels  for secondary care orthodontic treatments.
Over the period of the programme, health boards will be provided with such additional resources as may be necessary to enable them to fully develop their orthodontic services in accordance with the development plan.
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