Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Mid-West Mark Ward has said that the HSE is failing children under the Health Act by failing to provide children with their statutory entitlement of routine dental screening in primary schools.
Teachta Ward received a response to a parliamentary question that showed almost 100,000 children nationally and 29,000 in CHO area 7, which includes Teachta Ward’s area of Dublin Mid West are waiting on routine dental examinations in primary schools.
Teachta Ward said:
“Eligibility for dental services is a statutory entitlement under the Health Acts. Almost one million children aged up to and including 15 years are eligible for HSE Dental services. All of the HSE Dental Services are provided free of charge.
“The HSE are not providing adequate dental screening to primary school children and are failing children under the Health Act.
“Prior to Covid we have seen reports from The Irish Dental Association (IDA) that stated an increasing number of children are only being offered examination and dental care for the first time at sixth class – instead of at first, second, fourth and sixth classes
“This situation has been exacerbated by the impact of Covid. The bar was already set low for dental screening in primary schools and a response to a parliamentary question I received shows over 29,000 children are waiting on routine dental examinations in CHO area 7, which includes my own area of Dublin Mid-West
“Earlier this year I reported that there was a 63% decrease in dental screening in primary schools nationally in 2020. This was particularly bad in my own area of Dublin Mid-West, which is covered by CHO 7 which shows a 62% decrease.
“There are strong links between good oral health and good physical health, and it is vital that the HSE develop a contingency plan so children can receive this vital service.
“This situation is not unique to Dublin Mid-West but it is replicated right across the state, where there are currently almost 100,000 children waiting on an appointment. Some areas offer appointments to 6th classes only and emergency services to other children under 16.
“Other areas like CHO area 9 where the HSE report, due to the unprecedented pressures on the service, that some children have not been placed on waiting lists and it is not planned to offer them an examination.
“I called for the HSE to develop a contingency plan back in March of this year yet because they have failed to plan over 29,000 children are left waiting on routine dental care in my area.”