Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 5 Jun 1980

Vol. 321 No. 11

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Midland Health Board Dentists.


asked the Minister for Health if he is aware of the serious shortage of dentists in the Midland Health Board area and particularly in County Laois where two dentists have to cope with seven clinics, and that in the estimates, financial provision was made for the appointment of two additional dentists in a temporary capacity (or otherwise); if he will confirm that a dentist who applied for work with the board was refused on the grounds of economy even though there is a long waiting list and the necessary money has been allocated; and if he will have a full investigation carried out into this matter as soon as possible.

There are vacancies for four permanent whole-time dental surgeons under the Midland Health Board. These vacancies are presently filled by two temporary whole-time dental surgeons together with four dentists employed on a seasonal basis.

In County Laois two dentists are employed on a whole-time basis and additional sessions are carried out by four other dentists. No provision has been made in the health board's financial allocation for this year for the appointment of two additional dentists.

I understand that no decision has been taken by the health board to refuse an appointment to a dentist who applied for work with the board recently. However, the health board have decided as a general policy that temporary appointments cannot be made to long standing vacancies except where exceptional circumstances apply. A submission in the matter is awaited by the health board's management team from the senior dental surgeon in the Laois Offaly community care area so that the management team can examine whether a departure from their general policy would be warranted in this particular case.

Is the Minister aware that there is a considerable waiting list of patients, particularly medical card patients, for dental treatment? Will he make inquiries to ascertain the reason why within the past ten days a dental surgeon was found available for work and for some reason—the excuse being given of economy—to the disappointment of the senior dental surgeon in the county this dentist was not employed? Does the Minister feel that this is in the interest of dental health in the locality?

The Deputy is making a statement.

I think it is a matter of clarifying the position. There seems to be some misunderstanding. I have been given the clear understanding that no decision has been made by the board to refuse to appoint a dentist who applied recently. A submission in the matter is awaited by the board's management team. I would certainly take the point made by the Deputy and ask that this be treated urgently.

I do not want to trespass on the Minister's kindness and hospitality but if I get further details about the dentist who was not given employment by the Midland Health Board and was available most recently and submit them to the Minister, would he be prepared to examine the matter?


Did I understand the Minister to say that the official complement of dentists in the Midland Health Board area—or was it in County Laois—was four?

There are four vacancies for full-time dental surgeons.

In the Midland Health Board area or in County Laois?

In the Midland Health Board.

Can the Minister say if the health board have applied to the Local Appointments Commission for the filling of those posts?

The vacancies are presently filled by two temporary wholetime and by four dentists on sessional basis.

The Minister cannot fill four with two.

Two temporary full-time and four sessional. I do not have the other information here but I will inquire about it.

Would the Minister not accept that it is virtually certain that that health board, in common with all other health boards, have applied to the LAC possibly many times for the filling of those vacancies and they cannot be filled because of the grossly inadequate rates which the Department insist on?

The Deputy is now imparting information instead of seeking it.

Does the Minister not realise that the situation as outlined by Deputy Flanagan will not be cured in Laois or in any other part of the country until a proper career structure and salaries are provided?

The Deputy cannot make statements at Question Time. He cannot impart information.

Somebody has to make statements if the Minister will not make any.