Controversy over IDA stats

Thousands of children are waiting up to a year for hospital dental treatment says association

Health minister Leo Varadkar has questioned figures released by the Irish Dental Association (IDA) that up to 10,000 children under the age of 15 are being hospitalised for extractions under general anaesthetic each year.

The Fine Gael TD for Dublin West told RTE’s Morning Ireland that he believed the figure was that there are 3,600 such cases and, because that number includes day cases, that figure could even be an over estimate.

The IDA president Dr Anne Twomey quoted the now-disputed figure of 10,000 children undergoing GA extractions at the association’s annual seminar for dentists working in the HSE. She also claimed that the figures could be up to five times higher than the UK and that thousands of young children with chronic infections are waiting up to 12 months for care.

She said: “Why are thousands of our young people undergoing the trauma of hospitalisation for multiple dental extractions? Ninety five per cent of these cases would have been avoidable if they had been detected and treated earlier. The reason they weren’t is because of Government cuts to family dental supports since 2010, the constant undermining of what had been a highly effective schools screening service and the fact that too many of our young people have a poor diet containing too much sugar.”

A spokesman for the HSE said: “To date the Hospital in-patient Enquiry (HIPE) results show, for the previous three years, that GA provision ranges between 4,222 and 4,624 to end of 2014 in the dental sectors including advanced dental surgical procedures; not just routine extractions. It also refers to that less than 18 years of age cohort.

“Definitive data is not available for 2015 at this time, but indications are that there has been a particular fall in levels this year.”