Tuesday 21st October 2014 The Irish Dental Association has described the HSE’s decision to suddenly close a dental clinic at St James’s Hospital in Dublin without putting alternative facilities in place as a disgrace.
The IDA said the Saint James’s clinic is a vital service which provides dental care to around 3,000 children a year - usually 5 to 7 year olds – who require multiple dental extractions and for whom timely care is essential.
The Association pointed out that the clinic was opened on a temporary basis in 2003 and that the HSE has known for years that a permanent facility was required yet has simply chosen to close the clinic without putting an alternative in place. It’s understood some children are being sent to private hospitals as an interim measure.
The CEO of the IDA, Fintan Hourihan described the closure as the latest in a series of stealth cuts being applied to an already depleted HSE dental service.
He warned that the failure to treat these children in a timely manner would consign them to repeat courses of antibiotics and pose an unacceptable risk to their health and the possibility of severe dental infection.
“We are calling on the HSE to take action immediately. They must provide suitable alternative facilities and put appropriate funding in place to ensure that children requiring general anaesthesia are not left waiting more than a couple of weeks before receiving treatment.
“Many dentists in the HSE have contacted us to express their extreme concern on behalf of their patients and their families. They are outraged at this latest move and have asked their union to publicly voice these concerns as they themselves are fearful of the consequences of raising their concerns” Mr Hourihan said.
The IDA believes the closure of the St James’s clinic and the general issue of access to operating theatres for dental treatment needs to be addressed in the HSE’s Service Plan for 2015.
It is estimated that between eight to ten thousand children require admission to hospital each year for dental treatments requiring general anaesthesia. Mr Hourihan said delays and waiting times are growing all the time exposing these children to unacceptable risks.
“In the UK treating children for dental decay is the single most common cause for hospital admissions yet access to operating theatres for treatment is proving more and more difficult in Ireland as these treatments are not specifically covered in the hospital funding targets as decided by the Department of Health. We need incentives to facilitate these treatments or penalties to prevent delays. The situation cannot be allowed to deteriorate further while planning and funding needs to be put in place for future needs” Mr Hourihan said.
This problem and many other concerns about inadequate funding including the 20% reduction in the number of dentists employed by the HSE in recent years were raised by the IDA when they met the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar recently.
For further Information
Contact Kieran Garry
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Note to Editor
Sinead McCrory’s six year old daughter was referred to St James’s Hospital Dental Clinic from her local HSE clinic in Deansrath, Clondalkin, West Dublin. She had an appointment to have three teeth extracted under general anaesthetic at the St James’s clinic for the 14th August. Two days beforehand she got a call from the HSE to say the appointment was cancelled and that they would be in touch again in two to three weeks time with a new appointment.
Nine weeks later and with her daughter starting to get sporadic pain she made a follow up call. She was told that the waiting lists were huge and to go back to her local clinic. Her local clinic informed her that the HSE wouldn’t arrange to have the teeth extracted until her daughter was in a lot of pain.
She got a call from the HSE this week telling her how to spot swelling. The person said they were dealing with urgent cases in private hospitals and putting others on a waiting list. They said her daughter was on a waiting list and they were trying to put something in place for the New Year.