Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Ceisteanna (294, 295)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

370 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children and teenagers on the waiting lists for orthodontic assessment and treatment in the Eastern Regional Health Authority area and in the other seven health board areas during 2002 and 2003. [3949/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

The provision of orthodontic services is a matter for the health boards in the first instance. I have taken a number of measures to improve orthodontic services 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 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 the 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 and 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. 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 chief executive officers of the health boards and authority have informed me of the following information on their waiting lists for December 2002.

December 2002

Assessment Waiting List

Treatment Waiting List

ERHA

3,344

2,924

MHB

303

161

MWHB

1,869

676

NWHB

0

239

NEHB

846

1,150

SEHB

356

550

SHB

6,511

3,328

WHB

744

971

The chief executive officers of the health boards and authority have informed me of the following information on their waiting lists for December 2003.

December 2003

Assessment Waiting List

Treatment Waiting List

ERHA

570

3,583

MHB

287

210

MWHB

2,432

642

NWHB

0

287

NEHB

990

794

SEHB

283

644

SHB

4,034

3,301

WHB

654

759

The chief executive officers of the health boards and authority have informed me that, at the end of the December quarter 2003, there were 21,295 children receiving orthodontic treatment in the public orthodontic service. This means that there are over twice as many children getting orthodontic treatment as there are children waiting to be treated and 4,000 extra children are getting treatment from health boards since the end of 2001.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

371 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of consultant orthodontists and auxiliary staff currently employed and in training for the Eastern Regional Health Authority area and for the other seven health board areas. [3950/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

According to figures made available to my Department by the health boards, there are ten consultant orthodontists employed in the health boards and authority public orthodontic service. In addition, my Department funded 13 dentists from various health boards to obtain specialist in orthodontics qualifications at training programmes in Ireland and at three separate universities in the United Kingdom in 2003. These 13 specialist 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.

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 the 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 and will ultimately support an enhanced teaching and treatment service to the wider region under the leadership of the professor of orthodontics.

A new grade of orthodontic therapist, auxiliary dental worker in orthodontics, has been created in conjunction with the Dental Council. The Department will bring together the various staff associations at the Health Service Employers' Agency to discuss the terms to apply to these posts in the health boards. The chief executive officers of the health boards and authority have informed me that, at the end of December 2003, there were 21,295 children receiving orthodontic treatment in the public orthodontic service, 4,000 more children than were receiving treatment at the end of 2001.