Tuesday, 30 September 1997
Dáil Éireann Debate
Because of the high cost of providing orthodontic treatment it is important that resources be used to best advantage and for those most severely affected/handicapped. Patients are, therefore, assessed for treatment in accordance with guidelines issued by my Department and placed on waiting lists in descending order of severity/handicap.
I have been advised by the health boards that, at present, average waiting times for children seeking orthodontic treatment vary. In most health boards there is no waiting list for category A patients, which are the cases of greatest need. However in the North-Eastern Health Board there is a waiting period of approximately two to eight months.
248. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans, if any, he has to sanction funding to the Western Health Board to enable it to recruit additional orthodontic and dental staff to reduce the unreasonably long waiting lists for treatment in the west of Ireland and Mayo in particular. [14319/97]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): Additional funding has been provided to the Western Health Board for the development of dental and orthodontic services, including the recruitment of additional staff, in accordance with the Dental Health Action Plan.
However, the Western Health Board has experienced severe difficulty in the recruitment of dental staff in some areas and the board is currently exploring ways in which an adequate service can be provided in these areas.
The consultant orthodontist in charge of the orthodontic department as well as one other member of the orthodontic staff of the department resigned last year. This put a heavy burden on the department. The situation was then made more acute by the recent illness of another staff member. A new consultant orthodontist has now commenced work with the board. The board has also been successful in the recruitment of another staff member who has commenced work in the Orthodontic Department. The board hopes, as a result, that a significant impression will be made on the waiting lists.
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