Crisis point for public dental services

IDA conference hears how the children and vulnerable patients are being failed

The president of the HSE Dental Surgeon group has said that the public dental service is in crisis and was failing primary school children, special needs patients and teenagers.

Iseult Bouarroudj told the recent IDA annual conference in Kilkenny that savage cutbacks combined with a staff recruitment embargo had eroded the effectiveness of the service. She said: “Many children are now being left with untreated dental decay as the service has changed from one which provided preventative treatment to one which only provides reactionary treatment.

“In some areas, children are only being seen at sixth class, which is far too late for any preventative measures to be carried out (previously children were screened in 2nd, 4th and 6th classes).

“We have seen an increase in dental decay due to the decrease in manpower and the end result is a huge increase in emergencies, requiring extensive treatment and extractions.”

The Public Dental Surgeons’ Committee has been vocal in its criticism of the HSE and has called on the executive to to ensure adequate dental staffing in all areas and to allow patients access to equitable services, irrespective of location.

The Committee described the current situation as a geographic lottery, both in terms of accessibility to general dental treatment, and treatment of children and special needs cases under general anaesthesia. It said the most vulnerable and voiceless in society, are again being let down.