MORE than 1,500 children in Cork have been waiting more than a year for orthodontic treatment, it has been revealed.
HSE figures obtained by Cork TD Michael McGrath (FF) revealed that 2,300 children are awaiting orthodontic treatment in the region with 1,506 (65%) waiting more than a year.
The figures also show that around 1,700 children are awaiting an initial orthodontic assessment, which they require before going on the waiting list for treatment.
Almost 300 of these have been waiting more than 12 months for an assessment.
The HSE said that it aims to ensure that 75% of patients are seen for assessment within six months and that 99% have commenced treatment within four years.
Speaking to The Echo, Deputy McGrath said the treatment target “beggars belief”.
“How is that an acceptable target in this day and age?” he asked.
“The situation facing children in need of orthodontic treatment through the public system is nothing short of appalling.
“The fact that over 4,000 children in Cork city and county are awaiting either an assessment or actual treatment underlines the scale of the crisis,” added Deputy McGrath.
“It is very obvious from looking at those numbers that greater capacity is urgently needed in the public system.
“This issue has been raised with the HSE and the government over a prolonged period of time, but we are not seeing the improvements that are necessary,” he said.
Orthodontic services in Cork Kerry Community Healthcare are currently provided by two consultant orthodontists — for South Lee and West Cork and the other for North Lee and Kerry.
There is also a Service Level Agreement with UCC to provide orthodontic services for the North Cork area and this consultant orthodontist is based at Cork University Dental School and Hospital.
There are no vacant consultant orthodontic Posts in Cork Kerry Community Healthcare at present, the HSE advised.
A National Waiting List Initiative for those waiting routine treatment for more than four years was commenced in 2016.
While 237 children from the Cork Kerry area were offered access to this waiting list initiative, only 142 availed of the treatment offered under this initiative.
The HSE expects this initiative to offer treatment to new patients in the coming months.
However, it is anticipated that the numbers offered treatment in Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) will be relatively small, given the fact that patients have to be on waiting lists for more than four years to apply.