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  • Northside East

Dental services for local children are criticised

Wednesday, 17th July, 2019 8:00am
Dental services for local children are criticised

There is huge demand for children’s dental services in Fingal. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

Dental services for local children are criticised

There is huge demand for children’s dental services in Fingal. PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

THERE are currently more than 4,500 children in Fingal waiting over 52 weeks to be screened with the HSE dental service.

However, the HSE pointed out that Fingal is one of the fastest growing areas in the EU and its young population is putting a strain on the services it can provide. 

Dublin Fingal TD Louise O’Reilly (SF) said she grilled officials from the HSE and the Department of Health at the Oireachtas Health Committee, over the “scandalous” waiting times for dental services in the county. 

“The sad reality is that hardly any child in fourth class in Fingal will receive their free check and care this year,” said Deputy O’Reilly.  

“There are currently 4,550 children in Fingal waiting over 52 weeks to be screened and officials from the HSE and Department of Health admitted under questioning that virtually none of these children will get their free check-up.

“These children have a legal entitlement to these screenings and they are being let down by this Government.”

Deputy O’Reilly said parents are also suffering because many have to then pay for private check-ups and care for their children which should be provided by the State.

“The oral health of the children across Fingal is being threatened because the Government refuse to invest in the dental service and have not hired enough staff, especially in Balbriggan,” she added.  

“We need to see targeted investment in the dental services in Fingal, otherwise many children will have serious oral health problems down the line.”

A spokesperson for the HSE said its Community Healthcare Organisation, Dublin North City & County (CHO DNCC) Dental Services aim to provide a targeted examination and associated treatment in three key stages of a child’s dental development - this equates to sixth, second and fourth classes.   

“The priority within this cohort would be sixth and second class,” said the spokesperson. 

“Once the target classes are assessed they are treated right away according to their needs. 

“In Dublin North City a service is always offered to every target class i.e. sixth, second and fourth classes in every school in the area and Dublin North City are on track to do so again this year.   

“However, in Dublin North, due to population increases and staff shortages, fourth class does not usually get seen. 

“With regard to Fingal in particular, Fingal is one of the fastest growing areas in the EU and would have one of the youngest populations (Fingal contains four of the top 10 electoral divisions nationwide where there have been significant population increases 2011–2016).”   

The spokeswoman said this change in demographics has had an impact on the dental services required for the area.    

“Therefore, while the HSE Dublin North Dental Service aims to provide a targeted examination and associated treatment to sixth, second and fourth classes, due to the continuing increases in the population levels in Fingal and the resultant increased pressures and demands on the service, combined with staff shortages, the Dublin North Dental Service is only in a position to offer appointments to the priority classes, sixth and second class.”

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