PDS under ‘intolerable’ pressure, says IDA

Staff shortages, clinic closures and a lack of policy direction by the Health Services Executive (HSE) are putting an “intolerable burden” on the Public Dental Service (PDS) say HSE dentists.

Speaking to more than 200 delegates at the HSE dentists annual seminar in Athlone, the chief executive of the Irish Dental Association (IDA) Fintan Hourihan said that, while the number of under-ı6s in the population had increased by 20 per cent in the past decade to ı.ı million, the number of PDS dentist responsible for their care had actually fallen by 20 per cent in that time, due to a recruitment embargo.

Hourihan went on to say that in some areas dentists were pulling almost as many teeth as they were filling and called on Health Minister Simon Harris to act immediately. He said: “For example, the situation in Laois/Offaly is simply shocking. Last year in Laois, dentists carried out ı,200 extractions and ı,800 fillings. In Offaly, it was 9ı5 extractions and ı,ı00 fillings. We believe this is a direct result of the collapse of the school screenings as children in these counties are not being seen until they are in first year in secondary school. In Laois, the number of under-ı6s has increased by 40 per cent since 2002 but the number of dentists has fallen by 42 per cent since 2008.

“Figures for six community care areas, for which exact numbers are available, show that almost ı6,000 primary children missed their school screening last year. A partial screening service at best is on offer in most other counties. In addition, dental clinics are being closed down which is leading to ever-lengthening waiting lists.”

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