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Thousands of kids waiting four years for dental treatment

MORE than 2,000 children are facing waits of up to four years for orthodontic treatment in Cork.

According to the HSE waiting lists, there are 917 children in Cork waiting for an orthodontic assessment, with another 1,699 waiting for treatment.

The HSE said that all referrals are seen with within six months, but children could be waiting for more than four years for treatment once their priority is assessed.

Cork South Central TD and Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath, who received the figures through a parliamentary question, said that it was unacceptable that people were waiting this long.

"The waiting times remain unacceptable and this is having a serious impact on the children concerned and their families. A lot of people simply cannot afford to get orthodontic work done privately and are left languishing on a waiting list. The staff involved are doing the very best they can but the HSE needs to put more resources into this area," he said.

The HSE explained that children who are placed on the priority waiting list, due to issues like a cleft palate or impacted teeth, are seen within a year.

However, children placed on the “functional waiting list” are generally seen within two years, while those on the routine fixed waiting list are usually seen within four years.

Of the 1,699 on the treatment waiting list, 853 are on the functional lists, while 846 are on the routine fixed list.

The Cork & Kerry Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) Orthodontic Services are currently provided by two Consultant Orthodontists – one covering South Lee and West Cork and the other covering North Lee and Kerry. There are no vacant Consultant Orthodontic Posts in the CHO at present.

The Cork & Kerry CHO also has a Service Level Agreement with UCC to provide Orthodontic Service for the North Cork area with a Consultant Orthodontist based at Cork University Dental School and Hospital