Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal North East, said the waiting list for orthodontic treatment at Letterkenny General Hospital is completely unacceptable.
According to figures released to the deputy, 177 people, most of them children, have been waiting more than a year to see a consultant.
“The length of waiting times for orthodontic treatment at Letterkenny General Hospital is more evidence of the mishandling of the health service by this government, and more particularly Minister James Reilly,” Deputy McConalogue said. “Patients in Donegal and across the north west are being forced on to long waiting lists for neurological services, rheumatology services and orthopaedic services. Now orthodontic treatment can be added to those ever-expanding lists.”
He said most people waiting for orthodontic treatment are children, who in many cases are in severe pain. “It is not too much to ask that our children receive the care they need within a reasonable amount of time,” the deputy said.
He said there are almost 5,000 people on a waiting list for an orthodontic appointment across the HSE West region. Nearly 2,000 of them have been waiting more than 12 months, and in some instances people have been on the same list for up to 4 years, Deputy McConalogue said.
“This government has been leading a sustained attack on local health services, especially in the north west region,” Deputy McConalogue said. “Patients in Donegal are expected to either wait or travel to receive essential medical services. This is a completely unacceptable expectation and has been brought about solely by the extensive cutbacks forced in by Minister Reilly.
“His inability to balance his department’s books has exacerbated the situation, leading to reduced services, restricted access and longer waiting times,” the Donegal deputy said.