Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte has called on the Health Minister to explain what measures will be taken to alleviate unacceptably long waiting lists for orthodontic treatment for children in the West.

The latest figures reveal that there are more than 3,000 children waiting for orthodontic appointments in the Western region.  Almost 1,000 of those have been on a waiting list for over 2 years, and now it’s emerged that further delays are on the cards as a result of staffing issues at University Hospital Galway.

Deputy Rabbitte explained, “The situation at University Hospital Galway is extremely worrying, and is having a major impact on hundreds of children right across Galway itself, and neighbouring counties.  While there has been a small improvement in the figures in the past few months, the number of children waiting years for basic orthodontic treatment is truly shocking.  These delays are not only impacting children waiting to get braces, but those who have completed their treatment are also having to wait to have their braces removed.  This is bound to have knock-on effects on their outcomes.

“I have recently been made aware of staffing issues within the orthodontic unit, which has resulted in the cancellation of certain procedures and increased delays for appointments.  At least two orthodontic posts are vacant and there appears to be no plan in place to fill them.

“The crisis in our health system is not just confined to Emergency Departments, waiting lists across many specialties are out of control and there is no sign of the Minister taking any form of tangible action on the horizon.

“I am calling on Minister Varadkar to outline his plan to ensure that the orthodontic unit at UHG is properly staffed.  The current situation is not sustainable and children and teenagers across the West are suffering as a result.  This is incredibly unfair and must be addressed as a matter of urgency”.