Dáil Éireann - Volume 530 - 08 February, 2001
Written Answers. - Orthodontic Service.
Ms McManus Ms McManus
93. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to deal with waiting lists for orthodontic treatment; the numbers waiting in each health board area; the details of the tax credit scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3410/01]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I have long recognised that the waiting times for orthodontic treatment are unacceptably long. Following recommendations in the Moran Report, Review of Orthodontic Services, structural changes are being introduced in the orthodontic services to allow the targets set out in the dental health action plan to be achieved. However, it will be some time before these structural changes impact significantly on service levels. Consequently, I asked health boards to develop proposals to make an immediate significant impact on their waiting lists. An additional investment of £5.3 million has been approved for orthodontic services this year, of which £3.7 million is to fund an initiative on orthodontic waiting lists.
As part of this initiative, my Department has approved a proposal from the Eastern Regional Health Authority for a grant-in-aid scheme. Under the scheme, patients who meet the criteria laid down for non-urgent routine treatment will be given the option of availing of treatment from a private orthodontic practitioner. A grant of 50% of the board's overall estimated cost of treatment would be paid. Parents could also avail of tax credits on the balance where appropriate. A grant of 100% of the board's estimated cost of treatment would be paid in respect of medical card holders.
The scheme will operate on a pilot basis in the Northern Area Health Board for 12 months. A working group on the implementation of the scheme within the board is being established. The group has set a target date of 1 April this year for the implementation of the pilot scheme.
The provision of orthodontic treatment and the maintenance of information on numbers in treatment and waiting lists is the responsibility of the health boards. The most recent information available to my Department from figures received on 23 January 2001 is as follows:
 The current orthodontic services waiting lists for both assessment and treatment.
* Figures for month ending November 2000.
Dáil Éireann 530 Written Answers. Orthodontic Service.