Cork South West TD, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has said that while the reintroduction of certain free dental procedures under the PRSI scheme is welcome, the Government’s spin and bluster cannot hide the sorry fact that nearly 1200 children in Cork and Kerry are waiting longer than 12 months for orthodontic care.
“Information received by Fianna Fáil at a recent Oireachtas healthcare committee show that there are 1157 children in counties Cork and Kerry waiting longer than 12 months for treatment.
“Included in this cohort are 43 children who have been waiting longer than four years for treatment.
“These children have been assessed by HSE orthodontics as having dental issues at Grade IV or V. This means that a skilled professional has recommended that they require treatment.
“Of the 1157 children in the region waiting, 455 of them have been assessed as being Grade V. Patients with Grade V status are in some cases those children requiring treatment due to having cleft lips and damaged palates.
“How is it acceptable to have them waiting so long for such necessary treatment?
“Government Ministers can shout all they like about free scales and polishes but until they end the scandalous situation of children waiting such long periods of time for treatment, they have nothing to be proud of.
“These children cannot and should not be left waiting. Early treatment delivers better dental health. For those with cleft and damaged palates, every extra week they wait adds to the risk of further damage to their speech.
“Minister Harris must make better use of an enhanced National Treatment Purchase Fund to secure treatment for these children, either via private dental providers in Ireland, or potentially in Northern Ireland.
“In the long term, the State must commit to increasing capacity in the dental service to ensure that no child waits longer than six months for treatment,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.