For Written Answer on : 10/05/2023
Question Number(s): 203 Question Reference(s): 21998/23
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Health the measures being taken to reduce orthodontic treatment waiting times for children, with particular reference to those whose current estimated treatment referral date is beyond school-going age; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The HSE provides orthodontic treatment to patients who are assessed as having the greatest level of clinical need. Patients and their parents face difficulties at present in accessing orthodontic treatment with the HSE. These difficulties are expressed through the very high numbers waiting for assessment, and in both the numbers waiting for treatment and the length of time waiting for treatment.
The HSE has a range of national initiatives underway to address these waiting lists, including the recruitment of additional Consultant Orthodontist and Specialist Orthodontists.
In addition, between 2016 and 2020, a funded initiative placed 1,996 patients in treatment with private service providers. The HSE has concluded a successor procurement arrangement with private service providers for the period 2021-2024 for the provision of treatment to patients assessed as being suitable for care in a community setting and waiting in excess of 4 years.
Significant additional funding has been provided to address HSE orthodontic treatment waiting lists this year. €4m was provided in Budget 2023 to allow patients who have been waiting the longest to access care through private providers. For the first time, some patients who are awaiting orthognathic (jaw) surgery will be included in the use of this funding.
Further to this, €6 million has been allocated via the Waiting List Action Plan 2023 to further support the reduction of waiting lists for community-based orthodontic treatment.
619 patients have been removed from the treatment waiting list and placed into care with a private provider in a community setting so far this year (between 1 January and 30 April 2023), through this funding.