Parents of primary school children in south Galway are up in arms over what they say is the absence of a school dental service in the Loughrea, Portumna, Woodford, Gort areas.
They are incensed that a school dental position has been left vacant for some time with no indication about how soon it will be filled because of the embargo on public service recruitment numbers.
Fine Gael TD Paul Connaughton has raised the matter with the Minister for Health and the HSE and says because of the ban on recruitment some other way must be found to provide this service.
“All the national schools in the south Galway area are now without a school dental scheme. The HSE has stated that there is only a partial service in operation, in that a dentist may visit some schools on an occasional basis but parents are adamant that for all intents and purposes the scheme is non existent.”
He says the initiative provides an important assessment and treatment system for children.
“The highly acclaimed school dental scheme provides an opportunity for young school children to be assessed and where necessary to provide them with proper dental care. The scheme assesses pupils in the second, fourth and sixth classes but if severe problems were presented by students in other classes they would be looked after also.”
Local parents are concerned that in the current financial climate many will not be able to afford expensive dental treatment for their families.
“Many parents believe that because of the economic downturn costly dental health procedures will be outside the financial capacity of most families and that damage will ensue to the children concerned.”