I thank the Office of the Ceann Comhairle for selecting this matter and the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, for coming in to take it. This is about dental services and occupational therapy in Celbridge and the surrounding area. I will deal with dental services first. I was contacted by numerous parents in Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip and Celbridge who have concerns about access to dental services in local communities. They have been told that the service will be moved to a central location, namely, the new primary care centre in Celbridge. They do not typically have an issue with that but they are concerned about when this will happen. While they were given information, no detail has been provided. I tabled a parliamentary question and contacted the HSE via the Deputies' line in order to ask for this information so that we could give it to parents, schools and the public in general. Although it is a priority for community health organisation, CHO, 7, I was informed in April that, alarmingly and astonishingly, there is no date or plan to put it in place and to commence provision of those services in Celbridge for the wider area. I hope the Minister of State will have some different information for me.
Dental services are not even available in Celbridge at present. Parents who take their children to the dental service in Celbridge have been asked to go to Naas for the last few weeks. Naas is approximately 30 to 40 minutes away by car. If one wants to go by public transport, one has to get a taxi or train to Sallins and then a taxi from Sallins to Naas. It is not straightforward logistically and there is a financial implication. It causes much difficulty and hardship for families, and a lot of stress because they do not know what is happening. When will the dental services be in place in Celbridge for Celbridge, Kilcock, Maynooth and Leixlip? Does the Minister of State have a date and a plan?
Occupational therapy services are not currently available in the Celbridge primary care centre for children over 16 years of age. They have to go to Clane for that service. Again, there are logistical problems, such as for families who do not have two cars. Someone who needs occupational or physical therapy may be a child with special needs or someone with a particular challenge, so it is not that simple or straightforward to commute with him or her by public transport or by taxi to Clane, which is nearly 15 minutes away.
We have a wonderful primary care centre in Celbridge. On Leaders' Questions earlier, the Taoiseach advocated for primary care and the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, did so at Question Time yesterday. We all advocate for primary care because if it is financed, resourced and staffed properly, it can be a great front-line service to communities and can ensure that people can avoid having to travel long distances for care and stay away from accident and emergency units. The problem we have in some cases is that the basic services, such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy and dental services, are not in place. We must examine how they can be resourced better so as to play a more integral part in the community and to provide the service we all want them to provide. I would very much appreciate some information from the Minister of State on those services and when they will be in place.