23,000 children in Kilkenny and South East stuck on public dental waiting lists
JUST under 23,000 children in Kilkenny and neighbouring counties in the South East are waiting for a public dental assessment, or treatment around the country, shocking new figures reveal.
The South East has the highest number of children on public dental waiting lists compared to other regions.
The statistics were published by RTÉ on foot of a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly.
They reveal that the Community Healthcare Organisation 5, consisting of Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford, Wexford and South Tipperary), has around 22,900 children on the waiting list.
The South East is followed by Community Healthcare Organisation 2, consisting on counties Cavan, Monaghan, Sligo and Leitrim, with 18,500 waiting.
Community Healthcare Organisation 8 (Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath) is the third highest, with 12,900 children on public dental waiting lists.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) assessments are carried out by public health dental teams which visit primary schools.
The Irish Dental Association has described the waiting list figures as shocking. Its spokesperson, Dr Gillian Smith, said that due to delays in assessments, children end up in pain, with swelling and infection, being put on repeated courses of antibiotics, needing operations under general anaesthetic and missing school.
Deputy Donnelly said children are being “failed” by the system by having to wait for assessments and some are not seen at all.
He said there were clear staffing shortages in certain areas to do the dental assessments.
In a statement, the HSE said almost one million children, up to and including 15 years, are eligible for its free dental services.
It said that its targeted preventive and treatment services for children involved identifying those with the greatest needs and the highest risk of dental disease.
The HSE said more than 95% of children are screened and offered follow-up treatment.