Written Answers. - Orthodontic Treatment.

Ivan Yates

Question:

42 Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Health his views on whether sufficient orthodontists are available in each of the health board areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [989/94]

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

127 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the dental health action plan which his Department is to draw up for implementation over the next four years for the provision of basic treatment for schoolchildren on orthodontic waiting lists. [452/94]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 127 together. I have drawn up a Dental Health Action Plan to be implemented over the next four years to achieve the key aims of the public dental service as outlined in the National Health Strategy.

One of the main elements of the action plan is the phased improvement of primary and secondary care orthodontic treatment for all children who need it. The action plan provides for the recruitment of a total of nine consultant orthodontists and appropriately trained dental support staff to health boards to meet treatment needs at secondary care level. A total of six consultant orthodontists with support staff have now been appointed to health boards. In addition a consultant orthodontist has been appointed to the National Cleft Palate Unit at St. James's Hospital.
This year, as the initial phase of the action plan, I provided an additional £1 million to health boards for an additional ten dental support teams for the consultant orthodontists.
My Department continues to progress its strategy for the development of consultant led orthodontic services in each health board area.
In addition to his/her own direct clinical involvement the consultant orthodontist organises and co-ordinates training for health board dental surgeons in orthodontics. This strategy ensures a high service level and the best possible standard of treatment at secondary care level. Orthodontic treatment for some milder cases can be provided at primary care level by health board dental surgeons who are competent and who have access to consultant advice and cover.