Denial of dental services is “inexcusable”

Treatment concerns as a result of HSE recruitment ban

Some areas of Ireland are seeing an "inexcusable" curtailment of dental services for children and patients with special needs as a direct result of the HSE's recruitment ban.

That is according to the chief executive of the Irish Dental Association (IDA), Fintan Hourihan, who was speaking at a recent seminar for HSE dentists in Athlone.

He described how under-16s in north Dublin are currently waiting up to five years for orthodontic treatment, children in Sligo have a wait of six months for treatments that require general anaesthesia (GA) and all high-risk adult special needs patients in the greater Dublin area have had the provision of GA suspended until next January.

On top of this, school children in Cavan are not seeing their dentist for their initial school screening check-up until sixth class and adult special needs patients in Cork have a waiting list of three years before they can received treatments that require GA.

Hourihan described the "severe curtailment of services" as "inexcusable". He continued: "These are just a selection of the many ways in which children up to 16 and special needs patients are being denied essential preventive dental care. Regrettably, all the evidence shows that failure to screen dental problems and arrange treatments at an early stage will inevitably cause significant deterioration in the dental health of such patients."

He also said that the denial of services is a direct result of the HSE recruitment ban. "These two vulnerable groups are losing out due to the refusal to replace dentists, dental nurses and other key support staff," he said.

"Denying children and special needs patients proper dental care is a shocking indictment of our healthcare system."