Written Answers. - Orthodontic Service.

John McGuinness

Question:

356 Mr. McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 266 of 14 November 2000, an appointment for orthodontic treatment has been made for a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the growing waiting lists in this area. [7773/01]

The provision of orthodontic services to eligible persons in County Wicklow is the statutory responsibility of the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA).

This year, the ERHA received an additional investment of £2.34 million for orthodontic services, of which £1.61 million is to fund an initiative on orthodontic waiting lists. The authority is recruiting additional staff and developing a five-surgery unit at St. James's Hospital and a six-surgery facility at the Loughlinstown Hospital Regional Orthodontic Unit. Three additional consultant orthodontists are being recruited; the appointments to two of these posts are in train and the recruitment process for the third post is under way.

This initiative will have a significant impact on orthodontic waiting lists and waiting times for treatment. The authority has advised that the initiative will enable an additional 3,000 patients on the assessment waiting list to be treated and significantly reduce waiting times for treatment. Validation of existing waiting lists will be carried out.

I have again asked the chief executive officer of the authority to investigate the position in relation to this case and to reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.