PDS is ‘critically compromised’

New president of the HSE Dental Surgeons group says staff are being put under increasing pressure

Dentists working in the Public Dental Service are being pushed to breaking point according to the new president of the HSE Dental Surgeons group.

Frances O’Callaghan said that, thanks to the ongoing recruitment embargo within the HSE, staff numbers are decreasing as patient numbers are going up.

Speaking at the annual conference for HSE dental surgeons in Co Carlow recently, she said: “We are seeing evidence on a daily basis of increased levels of untreated dental disease among our patients and this is a huge concern for our members.

“Staff levels have fallen to the point that our ability to deal with the basic treatment needs of our patients is now critically compromised.

“More patients are presenting with pain and infection, requiring complex treatments and, in certain circumstances, hospital admission. Waiting lists for treatment under general anaesthesia, orthodontics and oral surgery are continuing to lengthen due to the lack of resources.”

A spokesman for the HSE said: “Recruitment of dentists is proceeding where necessary in cases where a business case illustrating this need is submitted from a service area.

“In recent months, one consultant orthodontist, 6.05 general dental surgeons and six dental nurse posts have already been approved for the Public Dental Services on the submission of such cases; several others are under consideration.

“In relation to secondary care services, the HSE endeavours to provide services for children on the basis of clinical need. It is anticipated that the reconfiguration of acute services will offer significant potential for increasing access to these dental secondary care services in all hospitals.

“It should also be noted that there has been a decrease in orthodontic service assessment waiting lists over the past 12 months, as evidenced by the performance indicators. In addition, a national procurement process is at its final stages to commence treatment for those waiting for a long period of time and funding has been provided for this initiative.”