Thursday 15th May 2014. The Irish Dental Association has called on the HSE to stop exposing patients awaiting oral surgery to the health risks caused by repeated use of antibiotics.
The IDA says that while the HSE advises members of the public to avoid over-use of antibiotics it is in fact the cause of medical card patients being forced to use antibiotics for prolonged periods due to long delays in arranging oral surgery.
Dr Ryan Hennessy, the leader of the IDA general dental practitioners committee said the delays were caused by cutbacks in preventative treatment under which dentists are only permitted to fill two teeth a year, cutbacks in staffing and cutbacks in theatre time in hospitals.
He was speaking as the IDA’s annual conference got underway at the Lyrath Estate Hotel in Kilkenny.
“We regularly advise our patients that taking an antibiotic is not an alternative to effective treatment of underlying oral health problems, and that repeated prescriptions are not a solution. While antibiotics may improve the symptoms of dental issues they do not remove the cause.
“It is therefore alarming that due to HSE delays in arranging necessary treatment for patients who require specialist oral surgery, patients must repeatedly take multiple prescriptions of antibiotics prescribed by their dentist or doctor to help control recurrent infections. Of course this is directly linked to cutbacks in preventative treatments and staffing. We have seen a 20% net reduction in dental staffing in the dental services provided directly by the HSE over the last four years.
“However, the fact that patients are being forced to use antibiotics for prolonged periods is exposing them to unnecessary health risks which are not acceptable and therefore we are calling on the Minister for Health to insist that maximum waiting times be introduced in order to safeguard the health of patients referred for specialist oral surgery” he said.
Dr Hennessy said the IDA would raise this issue with the Minister of State for Primary Care, Mr Alex White TD, when he attends the conference tomorrow (Friday May 16th).