Dáil Éireann - Volume 571 - 30 September, 2003
Written Answers. - Orthodontic Service.
Mr. Naughten Mr. Naughten
992. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the current waiting list and waiting times for orthodontic treatment and assessment in each health board area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20958/03]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): As the Deputy is aware, the provision of orthodontic treatment for eligible persons is the responsibility of the health boards-authority in the first instance. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that I have taken a number of measures  to improve orthodontic services on a national basis.
The grade of specialist in orthodontics has been created in the health board orthodontic service. This year, my Department and the health boards are funding 13 dentists from various health boards for specialist in orthodontics qualifications at training programmes in Ireland and at three separate universities in the United Kingdom. These 13 trainees for the public orthodontic service are additional to the six dentists who commenced their training in 2001. Thus there is an aggregate of 19 public service dentists currently in training for specialist in orthodontics qualifications. These measures will complement the other structural changes being introduced into the orthodontic service, including the creation of an auxiliary grade of orthodontic therapist to work in the orthodontic area.
Orthodontic initiative funding of €4.698 million was provided for the health boards-authority in 2001. This has enabled health boards to recruit additional staff, engage the services of private specialist orthodontic practitioners to treat patients and build additional orthodontic facilities.
In June 2002, my Department provided additional funding of €5 million from the treatment purchase fund for health boards specifically for the purchase of orthodontic treatment. This funding is enabling boards to provide both additional sessions for existing staff and purchase treatment from private specialist orthodontic practitioners.
The chief executive officers of the health boards-authority have informed me of the following information on their orthodontic waiting lists as at the end of the June 2003 quarter, which is detailed in the table following:
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.
The chief executive officers of the health boards-authority have informed me that at the end of the June 2003 quarter, there were 20,650 patients receiving orthodontic treatment in the public orthodontic service. This means that there are over twice as many children getting orthodontic treatment as there are children waiting to be treated and over 3,000 extra children are getting treatment from health boards since the end of 2001.
Dáil Éireann 571 Written Answers. Orthodontic Service.