Stress in the public service

New survey from the IDA reveals high levels of stress among HSE dental surgeons

One in five public dental surgeons have missed work as a result of stress according to a new survey conducted by the Irish Dental Association (IDA).

Respondents to the survey said that the biggest reason for them being stressed and missing work was the lack of access to secondary care services for patients, in particular to general anaesthetic services.

IDA chief executive Fintan Hourihan, speaking at the annual seminar of the association’s HSE Dental Surgeon’s Group in Carlow recently, said it was clear morale was “on the floor”.

He said: “Sixty per cent say they regularly feel stressed at work and this is simply not sustainable. The fact that it is the lack of services for patients which is the highest stressor is telling. Our members are under severe pressure to prioritise the most serious cases.

“The problem is all of the children on these waiting lists need urgent treatment and all need general anaesthetic. Yet dentists are being asked to subdivide them. While acute cases are prioritised, less acute cases which include young children often requiring four or more extractions, can wait up to a year. This is simply not acceptable.”

A spokesman for the HSE said: “The figures available for sick leave within the HSE illustrate that overall absenteeism has reduced in the medical/dental sector year on year since 2012. The current absenteeism rate for this sector is 2.07 per cent.

“Medical and dental staff have the lowest rate recorded for all health care sectors in the primary care/non acute sector, of which the overall average is 4.62 per cent. The absenteeism rate in fact has come down steadily over the past number of years.”