Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher has said that the failure of the HSE to ensure that at least 10,000 Irish young people, but potentially more, receive orthodontic treatment despite them already waiting longer than 12 months is a scandal, and one which underlines the lack of capacity in the health system.
Deputy Kelleher was responding after receiving confirmation from the HSE by way of a parliamentary question that 9945 children, under the age of 16 with Grade IV or Grade V dental requirements, are waiting longer than 12 months for treatment.
“This is scandalous. Of these 9945 children, 4362 are deemed as being Grade V. Grade V patients are in some cases those children requiring treatment due to having cleft lips and damaged palates.
“What’s highly disturbing is that these figures don’t paint the full picture as figures from the Midlands and the North West were not available due to local industrial disputes.
“These children cannot and should be left waiting. Early treatment delivers better outcomes in terms of speech, and it’s simply inconceivable that 606 of these children have been waiting between three and four years.
“Too many of our children are waiting inordinate amounts of time for treatment. We are putting their future dental health and wellbeing at risk by having to wait.
“Minister Harris must make use of an enhanced National Treatment Purchase Fund to secure treatment for these children, either via private dental providers in Ireland, or potentially in Northern Ireland.
“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 Kelleher.