CHILDREN are leaving primary school without their routine dental checks due to a shortage of HSE staff caused by recent retirements.
FF TD for Cork South West, Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has highlighted the situation after being contacted by a number of parents in the area whose children were affected.
The HSE confirmed there have been a number of retirements, statutory leave and transfers of staff in Cork Dental Services in recent times. ‘This has unfortunately had an impact on the delivery of frontline services, particularly in the West Cork area.
‘However, the process of recruiting three Dental Surgeon Posts (two WTE) for the West Cork area is expected to be commenced by the HSE’s national recruitment services shortly.’
Two WTE mean that the posts are two whole time equivalents ie there will be three posts covering the equivalent of two full time dentists
The statement continued: ‘In the interim a Cork city based dentist is providing a service two days per week in Skibbereen.’
The HSE Primary Care Dental Service provides a school screening dental service which targets pupils in 2nd and 6th classes.
The HSE statement added that anyone who did not get their check at these times would be offered appointments throughout their school holidays or in the next academic year.
However, Deputy O’Mahony said the service was failing children and described it as ‘inexcusable.’
She added: ‘We are all too aware the impact of delayed diagnosis and treatment can have on outcomes. ‘Some of these children are waiting years for routine dental check-ups. These delays could be resulting in all sorts of dental issues for them.’
Deputy Murphy O’Mahony, who raised the issue with the Minister for Health Simon Harris, is urging management to ensure that these posts are filled without delay.