Written Answers. - Orthodontic Service.

Denis Naughten

Question:

344 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting times for orthodontic treatment in each health board; the total number of children on the waiting list in each region; the average waiting time in each health board area for orthodontic assessment; the number involved; the measures he is taking to resolve this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7683/01]

Following recommendations in the Moran report – review of orthodontic services – structural changes are being introduced in the orthodontic services. However, it will be some time before these structural changes impact significantly on service levels. Consequently, I asked health boards to develop proposals to make an immediate significant impact on their waiting lists. As a result, funds of £5.3 million have been provided for orthodontic services this year, of which £3.7 million is to fund an initiative on orthodontic waiting lists. This will enable health boards to recruit additional staff and engage the services of private practitioners to treat patients.

Based on the health boards' own submissions, I expect that this initiative will have a significant impact on orthodontic waiting lists and waiting times for treatment. The health boards have advised that the ultimate effect will be to increase the numbers in treatment by 5,500 per annum and significantly reduce waiting times for treatment. Validation of existing waiting lists will be carried out.

The most recent information on orthodontic waiting lists received by my Department on 8 March is as follows:

Health Board

Category I

Category II

Assessment waiting list

Category Iwaiting time (months)

Category IIwaiting time (months)

Assessment waiting time (months)

ERHA

332

10,749

N/A

18

42

N/A

Mid-Western

1,488

2,752

24 – 36

24 – 30

Midland

407

N/A

18

N/A

North Eastern

8

821

N/A

2

24 – 30

N/A

North Western

2,195

N/A

30

N/A

South Eastern

550

150

12

3

Southern

4,500

5,000

48

Varies according to date of birth – children born in June 1987 presently being assessed

Western

2,183

565

42 – 48

6