Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (669, 670, 671)

Seán Ryan

Question:

789 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) can expect to recommence their laser treatment last received in June 2003 in Crumlin Children's Hospital. [2257/04]

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Seán Ryan

Question:

790 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children in receipt of and awaiting laser treatment at Crumlin Children's Hospital; and the steps he intends to take to enable the consultant in this field secure theatre time so that the children can secure the necessary treatment. [2258/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 789 and 790 together.

Responsibility for the provision of health services to persons residing in counties Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow rests with the Eastern Regional Health Authority, and services at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, are provided under an arrangement with the authority. My Department has, therefore, asked the regional chief executive of the authority to investigate the matters raised by the Deputy and to reply to him directly.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

791 Mr. O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people in County Louth on the orthodontic waiting list; and the average waiting time for each category. [2259/04]

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The provision of orthodontic services is a matter for the health boards in the first instance. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that I have taken a number of measures to improve orthodontic services in the North Eastern Health Board area and on a national basis.

The grade of specialist in orthodontics has been created in the health board orthodontic service. In 2003, my Department and the health boards funded 13 dentists from various health boards, including three from the NEHB, for specialist in orthodontics qualifications at training programmes in Ireland and at three separate universities in the United Kingdom. These 13 trainees for the public orthodontic service are additional to the six dentists who commenced their training in 2001. Thus, there is an aggregate of 19 dentists in specialist training for orthodontics. These measures will complement the other structural changes being introduced into the orthodontic service, including the creation of an auxiliary grade of orthodontic therapist to work in the orthodontic area.

Furthermore, the commitment of the Department to training development is manifested in the funding provided to both the training of specialist clinical staff and the recruitment of a professor in orthodontics for the Cork Dental School. This appointment at the school will facilitate the development of an approved training programme leading to specialist qualification in orthodontics. The chief executive officer of the Southern Health Board has reported that the professor commenced duty on 1 December 2003. In recognition of the importance of this post at Cork Dental School, my Department has given approval in principle to a proposal from the school to further substantially improve the training facilities there for orthodontics. This project should see the construction of a large orthodontic unit and support facilities. It will ultimately support an enhanced teaching and treatment service to the wider region under the leadership of the professor of orthodontics.

Orthodontic initiative funding of €4.698 million was provided to the health boards-authority in 2001 and this has enabled health boards to recruit additional staff, engage the services of private specialist orthodontic practitioners to treat patients and build additional orthodontic facilities. The NEHB was allocated an additional €0.559 million in 2001 for orthodontic services of which €0.114 million was for the orthodontic initiative.

In June 2002, my Department provided additional funding of €5 million from the treatment purchase fund to health boards specifically for the purchase of orthodontic treatment. This funding is enabling boards to provide both additional sessions for existing staff and purchase treatment from private specialist orthodontic practitioners. The NEHB was allocated an additional €0.421 million from this fund for the treatment of cases in this way.

The waiting times and figures for orthodontic treatment by county is not routinely collected by my Department. Therefore, the chief executive officer of the NEHB has been requested to provide the information requested directly to the Deputy. The chief executive officer of the NEHB has informed my Department that at the end of the September 2003 quarter, the average waiting time for category A and category B orthodontic treatment was 1.7 months and 15 months, respectively. There were 266 patients awaiting treatment and there were no patients awaiting assessment for orthodontic treatment. The chief executive officer of the NEHB also informed my Department that at the end of the September 2003 quarter, there were 2,675 patients getting orthodontic treatment from the board.