Dáil Éireann - Volume 475 - 20 February, 1997

Written Answers. - Orthodontic Service.

56. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that no orthodontic service is being provided for people in category C; the plans, if any, he has to review the orthodontic service and to ensure provision is made for treatment of those in category C; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4814/97]

Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): I am aware that in most areas there is an indefinite waiting period for the provision of secondary care orthodontic treatment for persons in category C.

The health board orthodontic services are being developed in accordance with the dental health action plan which provides for the phased improvement of orthodontic treatment services through a consultant led orthodontic service in each health board. A primary task of the consultant is to organise and co-ordinate orthodontic training to sub-consultant level for health board dental staff. This enables health boards to provide a greatly increased volume of service and a service of high quality.

Because of the high cost of providing orthodontic treatment it is important that resources are used to best advantage and for those most severely affected-handicapped. Patients are, therefore, [598] assessed for treatment in accordance with guidelines issued by my Department and placed on waiting lists in descending order of severity-handicap.

Having regard to the provisions outlined in the health strategy, the dental health action plan and the additional resources provided to health boards over the past few years for developments in the orthodontic services, my Department in consultation with the health boards and their consultant orthodontists is currently reviewing the guidelines. The objectives of this review are to ensure equity in the provision of orthodontic treatment throughout the health boards and reduce the waiting time for treatment, having regard to the resources available to the boards.