Dáil Éireann - Volume 550 - 20 March, 2002
Written Answers. - Orthodontic Service.
Ms Shortall Ms Shortall
454. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the arrangements for public orthodontic care which currently exist in each of the Northern Area Health Board, the South-Western Area Health Board, and the East Coast Area Health Board; the extent to which resources for public orthodontics are shared; the health boards which have a public orthodontist and those which currently have not; the extent of the waiting list for assessment; the extent of the waiting list for treatment in each health board area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9521/02]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The provision of orthodontic services in the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA) is the responsibility of that authority in the first instance.
 Additional funding of €2.971 million was provided to the ERHA in 2001 for orthodontic services of which €2.044 million was for an orthodontic initiative in the authority. This has enabled the authority to recruit additional staff – including two consultant orthodontists – and develop new treatment facilities at Loughlinstown and at the Regional Orthodontic Unit located at St. James's Hospital. Furthermore, the Northern Area Health Board (NAHB) plan to develop a new orthodontic unit, comprising twelve chairs, on the grounds of James Connolly Memorial Hospital. In the interim, the board is exploring the possibility of establishing a temporary facility.
The chief executive officer of the ERHA has informed me that the current staff complement in the ERHA is three consultant orthodontists [2.6 whole-time equivalent (WTE)], eight WTE clinicians and four trainee specialists in orthodontics. The chief executive officer of the authority has further informed me of the following working arrangements in the area health boards:
There are 1.6 WTE consultant orthodontists, seven clinicians and two trainee specialists in orthodontics in the South-Western Area Health Board. Of these, one WTE clinician provides orthodontic services to the NAHB and 1.5 WTE clinician provides services to the East Coast Area Health Board (ECAHB). There is one consultant orthodontist, one clinician and two trainee specialists in orthodontics available exclusively to the ECAHB.
The chief executive officer of the ERHA has also informed me that under the initiative, the NAHB has engaged the services of specialist orthodontic practitioners from outside its own area. Under this arrangement, two consultant orthodontists and one clinician provide five sessions per week between them. To date, the board has been unsuccessful in recruiting a consultant orthodontist and there is no public orthodontist currently employed there.
For 2002, my Department has provided additional funding of €0.662 million to the ERHA for orthodontic services of which €0.405 million was for an orthodontic training programme. Four dentists from the authority commenced their training for specialist in orthodontics qualifications last October. Furthermore, my Department has funded the appointment of a director of specialist training for the Irish Committee for Specialist Training in Dentistry through the Post Graduate Medical and Dental Board. The director has taken up duty and will play a pivotal role in assisting the different agencies involved in dental specialist training programmes.
The chief executive officer of the ERHA has informed me of the following information in respect of orthodontic waiting lists in the three area health boards as at the end of the December 2001 quarter:
Patients in category A require immediate treatment and include those with congenital abnormalities of the jaws such as cleft lip and palate, and patients with major skeletal discrepancies between the sizes of the jaws. Patients in category B have less severe problems than category A patients and are placed on the orthodontic treatment waiting list.
The chief executive officer of the ERHA has also informed me that at the end of the same quarter, there were 3,776 patients in orthodontic  treatment in the authority. This is an increase of 488 patients in orthodontic treatment when compared with the corresponding figure at the end of the September 2001 quarter. I expect the number of patients in orthodontic treatment will continue to increase as the measures in the orthodontic initiative take effect.
Dáil Éireann 550 Written Answers. Orthodontic Service.