Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath, Robert Troy, has said the number of people waiting for orthodontic treatment in the midlands is appallingly high. Deputy Troy was commenting as the HSE confirmed to him that 2,112 people were waiting for treatment in the midlands. 880 of them have been waiting for over two years.

Deputy Troy said, “While this is a shockingly high number it’s not all that surprising given that a consultant orthodontist post in the midlands has been vacant for almost six years.

“The response I received from the HSE was totally despondent. The vacant post has been advertised since 2013 with no success to date. There clearly needs to be a change of tact because the situation as it stands cannot continue. 357 people have been waiting for more than four years – this is disgraceful. I am calling on the Minister for Health to intervene directly in this situation and to ensure that the position is filled without delay.

“The HSE response stated ‘the service does not have enough trained staff to meet the identified needs’. The only solution offered by HSE is that they are trying to increase capacity in Louth and Meath which people in the midlands could use. Making people travel from the midlands to Louth or Meath for treatment is not a solution in my mind.

“It’s reasonable to assume that the majority of those waiting are children and adolescents and it’s just not good enough that a 14-year-old could be 18 before receiving, what in many cases is deemed “urgent”, treatment. Some of these children began waiting before Leo Varadkar became Minister for Health, now he’s Taoiseach and nothing has changed.

“The Minister must also address concerns around what happens when a child who has been waiting for years turns 18, are they still eligible for treatment through the public system? It’s no wonder the health service is in the state it is when the Health Minister can’t even get to grips with the basics ”, concluded Deputy Troy.