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 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports (Continued)
 Header Item Dental Services

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy] I will give an undertaking to bring back this matter to the relevant Ministers on foot of the representations this evening.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith We appreciate the positive response from the Minister of State and look forward to the Government going back and looking again at the schemes and the benefits that may be available. We are representatives of Dublin South-Central and it is important that the Ballyfermot club remains in situ. It is an interesting club because it is lean in its staff and flexible with the community but it caters for a huge number of groups and individuals and schools. I think it is worth a little bit of flexibility from the Department and all Ministers concerned to look at ways in which it can be supported. We have all said this. The issue goes beyond the boundaries of Ballyfermot. There are bound to be hundreds of other projects like it around the country that have been affected. We will bring this information back to the people who run the club and the community. We appreciate the positivity that the Minister of State has displayed tonight and look forward to a resolution. I thank the Minister of State and the Department.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Like my colleague, Deputy Bríd Smith, I thank the Minister of State. This is obviously an anomaly but it is not one that applies only to Ballyfermot sports complex. There will be other such cases because Ballyfermot sports complex is not unique in the way it runs its business. It is probably unique in many ways, given the amount of people who are dependent on it. We are coming out of Covid-19 restrictions and I hope that the likes of these halls will be able to deliver services and cater for groups as it has done in the past but that will not happen without some level of grant aid and help.

  The Ballyfermot sports complex has an impressive list of groups for which it caters. The list includes: Mary Queen of Angels national school; Ballyfermot youth service; Ballyfermot Youthreach; Kylemore College, Ballyfermot; Ballyfermot Candle Centre; Lifestart, Cherry Orchard; Caritas College, Ballyfermot; De La Salle GAA club; St. Patrick's GAA club, Palmerstown; Ballyfermot kenpo club; Ballyfermot martial arts club; Irish dancing; ballroom dancing; roller hockey club; Gurteen Youth Club; after-school sports clubs; soccer clubs; the Dublin-Philippines basketball club; late night crime diversion soccer programme; and the Ballyfermot Gymnastics Club. The staff of Wheatfield Prison use the complex for squash and the Traveller community uses it for handball. That is the considerable reach of the complex.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I thank the Deputy. Deputies Healy-Rae would not have done better in listing all those groups.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh I am here a long time.

Deputy Patrick Costello: Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello Deputy Ó Snodaigh has gone easy on the number of people in the community who benefit from the sports complex to show how valuable it is. I thank the Minister of State for his flexibility and positive answer. We look forward to working together on this.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Deputies have made the valid point that these community groups provide an invaluable service right across each of our constituencies. The Deputies have made their point well tonight about Ballyfermot. The Government is committed to supporting the people, businesses and communities in this difficult time. I reassure the Deputies that my Department and those of my ministerial colleagues in other Departments are keeping programmes that are administered by the Departments under constant review. I alluded to the new programme that we launched, the small business aid scheme. It was launched as a direct result and consequence of the fact that many groups were excluded from the Covid restriction support scheme, CRSS, as was identified to us. We have demonstrated that when something is brought to our attention, we want to intervene. This issue has been brought to my attention by the Deputies this evening and I will revert to the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, and the Minister of State, Deputy Joe O'Brien, who are the responsible representatives in the Department and I will articulate to them what the Deputies have said to me. I will ask them to converse directly with the Deputies in the hope that we can offer some assistance within the confines of the available budgets.

Dental Services

Deputy Verona Murphy: Information on Verona Murphy Zoom on Verona Murphy I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me the opportunity to raise this issue with the Minister. Dentistry and orthodontics, obviously, play important roles in keeping people healthy. People who have problems with their teeth and gums can find they leads to other, associated physical problems but they can also lead to psychological and esteem issues, particularly for young people. From the point of view of physical health, we know the importance of looking after our teeth. We must also remember the cosmetic reasons why people want to have a good-looking smile. It helps with self-esteem. It helps people to feel more confident in themselves and, naturally, that means they are happier.

  My Topic Issue matter refers to the orthodontic care system. The HSE states that:

A patient may be referred by a primary care clinician for initial orthodontic assessment. In general, this referral takes place around the ages of 11-13 years of age ... but can be provided anytime up to 16 years of age.

  Based on that, it would be safe to assume that between the ages of 11 and 13 and up to the age of 16 are the best times for these assessments and interventions to begin. No such assumption should be made. I will give some examples of the correspondence I am receiving on the topic. I will be referring to the parents of a constituent of mine whose details I have also emailed to the Minister's office. A parent told me about receiving the very good news that their 15-year-old daughter qualifies for free dental braces as her teeth are deemed bad enough to qualify for free dental assistance. She has already waited three extra years from her sixth class appointment with an orthodontist; such a consultation usually takes place when a child is aged 12. The parent went on to say that one could imagine how horrified they were to be told that it will be an extra six years before they hear about her next appointment in County Wexford. The girl in question is now 15 and will have to wait until she is 21 years old to have braces fitted. She is distraught, as are her parents.

  A letter from another parent stated that their child was assessed by a HSE orthodontist in Enniscorthy on 8 June 2018. The parent was informed that the child would definitely qualify for dental treatment through the HSE as he is an extreme case but there is a four-year waiting list. The parent was extremely shocked by this but reassured by the orthodontist as she explained that this would be the optimal time for the child. The parent rang the orthodontist's department during the first lockdown but the phone was not answered and no one responded to the parent's voicemail. The parent finally managed to get through last week and was horrified, upset and frustrated to be told by the secretary that the child, Robbie, will have to wait for another three years. That waiting list has now gone from four years to six years.

  This is the reality for many parents and patients. I wrote to the Minister of State's Department a couple of weeks ago. I received a response to the effect that the waiting list is now approximately 72 months' duration. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the additional measures in place, the orthodontic department has reduced capacity and has been unable to take any new patients off the treatment waiting list since March 2020.

  With all of that information in mind, and given how important the scheme is, will the Minister of State outline when the system will resume taking new patients from the treatment waiting list which has now been suspended since March 2020? What steps are being taken to reduce and speed up waiting list times? A six-year waiting list clearly means that there are major problems in the system and something has to be done urgently. These issues also come on the back of Wexford General Hospital having an increase of 69%, accumulating now to almost 5,300 patients on a waiting list. We have had no psychologist or dietician in the children and adolescent mental health service, CAMHS, for nearly three years. There is now also no podiatrist at Wexford General Hospital.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Frankie Feighan): Information on Frankie Feighan Zoom on Frankie Feighan I thank the Deputy for the opportunity to address the issue of waiting lists for orthodontic services on behalf of the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly. The HSE provides orthodontic treatment to those who have the greatest level of need and have been assessed and referred for treatment before their 16th birthday. An orthodontic assessment determines if the referral meets the criteria for the service and, if so, what priority the patient is given. Those with the greatest clinical need are prioritised.

Orthodontic services are generally provided by orthodontic consultants and specialist orthodontists who are based in the HSE orthodontic clinics throughout the country and, in addition, orthodontic therapists assist in providing services in some areas.

Last Updated: 19/04/2021 16:08:25 First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page