Vulnerable patients being failed by HSE

Leading dental surgeon says morale among public service dentists is at a new low

The public dental service is failing school children, special needs patients and teenagers according to a leading dental surgeon. Dr Iseult Bouarroudj, the newly elected president of the Health Service Executive’s Dental Surgeons Group, has described the impact of staff shortages on the service as simply unacceptable for a first world country.

Speaking to the group’s annual seminar, which took place at the Mullingar Park Hotel in Co. Meath recently, she said: “Where services have been reduced we have seen an increase in patients presenting with pain and infection, necessitating complex treatment and, in certain circumstances, acute hospital admission. “Waiting lists for treatment under general anaesthesia, orthodontics and oral surgery have soared due to the lack of resources. This is a reprehensible consequence of the circumstances which now prevails in our public dental service.”

The 350 public service dentists in the HSE see more than 250,000 children every year as well as some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society, including the elderly and young people in care of the HSE, and those with intellectual and physical special needs.

Dr Bouarroudj, who is orginally from Wexford, but has worked for the HSE throughout the Longford and Westmeath area for the last 13 years, said that, despite the continued efforts of staff to provide the best service, moral in the public dental sector was at a low ebb.

She said: “We are calling on the Minister for Health to reinstate sufficient numbers of staff in all HSE areas to ensure patients of the public dental service and orthodontic service have access to equitable services, irrespective of geographic location.”