Longford/ Westmeath Fine Gael Deputy James Bannon says that the Minister for Health is shamefully putting the dental well-being of the children of Longford/Westmeath at risk, with 155 children currently awaiting orthodontic assessment.
“Cutbacks necessitated by the financial mismanagement in the HSE, which has resulted in an administratively top-heavy system, mean that essential dental services are not being provided,” said Deputy Bannon.
“155 children are awaiting orthodontic assessment in Longford/Westmeath and with the waiting period extended from four months to two years, who knows what damage will be done to their teeth in the interim.”
The TD recently tabled a parliamentary question to the Minister for Health in relation to the number awaiting assessment, asking if the facilities in the constituency can cope with the demand for orthodontic treatment.
He received the following reply from the local community services:‘In answer to your query, there are 155 children awaiting orthodontic assessment for Longford/ Westmeath. We have lost the Longford orthodontist and one of the two orthodontic nurses with retirement. These positions are not being replaced due to the HSE recruitment embargo. Thus the treatment waiting list for Longford has gone from four months long to two years long. Currently, the available staff are unable to keep up with service demand.’
However, Deputy Bannon has blasted the reply as “totally unacceptable”.
“The HSE has squandered millions and continues to do so, on an excess of administrative staff and young children are forced to bear the brunt. I would like the Minister to explain how she can justify an embargo on replacing such vital dental personnel.
“Does the Minister ever lose sleep at night knowing that her mismanagement of her portfolio has led to the squandering of taxpayers’ hard-earned money?
“Perhaps if they weren’t being forced to pay levies and taxes to shore up the mistakes of the current Government, parents throughout the country could afford to send their children for alternative orthodontic treatment.
“But the Government has ensured that many of them can barely keep a roof over their heads, let alone afford private dental care.
“So who loses out? - the children that the FF/Green Government has deliberately forgotten.”`