1,478 waiting for orthodontic treatment in Mid-West

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A TOTAL of 1,478 children and young adults are waiting longer than 12 months for necessary orthodontic treatment in the Mid-West.

That’s according to Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea, who claims that hundreds of children in the Mid-West area of the HSE risk a future of dental problems as a result of severe delays in them accessing treatment.

Deputy O’Dea was commenting this week after receiving an update from the Oireachtas Health Committee on the number of children and teenagers awaiting treatment following their assessment.

“At the end of June 2017, there were 1,478 awaiting treatment over 12 months in the Mid-West, including 36 who have been waiting longer that four years to start treatment,” he told the Limerick Post.

“The fact that three out of every four are waiting over a year should act as a serious wake up call for the Minister for Health. We need to bear in mind that the figures released are for children and young adults at Grade IV and V according to the HSE’s own Index of Treatment Need.

“They don’t include the many tens of thousands of children and young people who are at Grades I-III who the HSE have made the determination that treatment wasn’t necessary at this time.”

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O’Dea finds it “inconceivable” that there are over thirty young people waiting longer than four years in the Mid-West for treatment, including 27 at Grade V, the most serious level according to the HSE.

“The HSE Service Plan for 2018, based on Budget 2018, needs to reflect the need to ensure that these people get treatment in a far timelier manner. The Government is jeopardising their future dental health and wellbeing by not ensuring they receive treatment far quicker,” he concluded.

In a statement to the Limerick Post, the HSE confirmed that from the end of September 2017 there are currently 1,508 patients in active treatment within the orthodontic service in Mid West Community Healthcare (CHO3).

“There are currently 187 patients awaiting orthodontic assessment. As per our assessment protocol, 100 per cent of patients are assessed within six months of referral with the majority being assessed within three months of referral,” a spokesman explained.

THE HSE maintain that the timely assessment of patients following referral has a number of benefits. These include parents being informed in a timely manner regarding a child’s eligibility for treatment. Pathology, they say, can be detected sooner and more timely intervention is possible. While children who may benefit from growth modification therapy can be identified at the appropriate age for such therapy.

“There are currently 1,735 (Grade 4 & Grade 5) patients waiting for treatment, 930 Grade 5 patients and 805 Grade 4 patients. 455 patients are waiting less than 12 months and 1,280 patients are waiting greater than 12 months and of this group 35 patients are waiting greater than four years.

“The National Orthodontic Waiting List Initiative in 2017 where Grade 4 patients who had been on a waiting list more than three years were given the opportunity to avail of treatment with a private service provider has been beneficial in reducing the numbers of Grade 4 patients on our waiting list. 181 Grade 4 patients are benefiting from this initiative. This initiative has permitted us to offer greater priority to the more complex Grade 5 patients. Going forward, continued funding for this initiative would be very welcome in addressing our waiting lists.”

by Alan Jacques

[email protected]