Sinn Féin TD for Clare, Violet-Anne Wynne has said that the HSE is failing children under the Health Act by not providing children with their statutory entitlement of routine dental screening in primary schools.
She urged the government to take urgent action against the “unacceptable” figures.
The figures were released to Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward, in response to a parliamentary question and reveal almost 100,000 children across the state are facing these delays.
Teachta Wynne said:
“The HSE are not providing adequate dental screening to primary school children and are failing children under the Health Act. In Clare, there are an estimated 3,148 children are waiting for a routine dental appointment.
“Failure to provide this important healthcare runs the risk of seriously harming children’s health. These figures are totally unacceptable and reveal a growing crisis in children’s dental care.
“Prior to Covid, reports from The Irish Dental Association (IDA) stated that 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 system was already under huge pressure and this has only increased.
“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 Clare 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.
“I have been campaigning about the Dental Treatment Services Scheme since elected. It does not receive enough funding which is leaving many people, especially in rural regions like Clare out to dry.
“The Government must urgently intervene to ensure appropriate contingency plans are put in place to ensure that children receive these vital services that they should be entitled to.”