Sinn Féin TD, Pearse Doherty
Orthodonic services for patients in Donegal have been described as "totally shambolic" by Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, Deputy Pearse Doherty.
Deputy Doherty's comments come after recent figures from the HSE reveal that there are currently 39 people in the county waiting for more than four years to receive necessary dental treatment.
The figures, which were provided to Deputy Doherty through a Parliamentary Question, reveal that there are currently 428 patients in the county on waiting lists for orthodontic treatment in both the Grade 4 and Grade 5 wait categories.
Deputy Doherty said:
“Orthodontic services for patients here in Donegal who are experiencing some of the most severe orthodontic problems are totally shambolic.
“According to data on waiting times from the HSE, there are currently 428 patients here on waiting lists for treatment and each of these are classified as being either in Grade 4 or Grade 5, depending on the severity of their condition.The system is made up of 5 grades which start from Grade 1 for almost perfect teeth, through to Grade 5 for severe orthodontic problems which require treatment on health grounds.
“Of the 232 patients in the Grade 5 wait band, 116 have been waiting for more than thirteen months to receive an appointment.
“In Grade 4, the figures are even worse as of the 196 patients in this category, 78 have been waiting for more than one year; 35 have been waiting between 2 – 3 years; while 39 patients have been waiting for more than 4 years for orthodontic treatment.
“And this is not just isolated to Donegal. The pressures on orthodontic services and waiting lists across this State are so great that, since April 2016, the HSE has had to procure additional orthodontic services from a number of private service providers.
“At the end of July, 590 patients have had to be outsourced to provide care providers, while recently released figures on the EU Cross-border healthcare directive reveal that orthodontics has been the second most common service and treatment availed of by Irish citizens under the scheme.
“This crisis in orthodontics is not surprising however when we look at the drastic cuts made during the economic downturn to state funded dental services, including the Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme (DTBS), the Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS) and the Public Dental Service.
“These cuts across the dental schemes have inflicted unnecessary pain and suffering to patients and their families in an area where quite often early intervention is crucial in order to avoid complicated and expensive emergency treatments further down the line.
“It is important that the Minister now looks to ensure that there are sufficient personnel in our dental and orthodontic services, and that the orthodontic departments in our public hospitals are adequately resourced to meet both current demand and the needs of patients.”