Tuesday, 28 June 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I accept the Minister of State's comments but the response does not even mention the four-year waiting list, which is shocking. This family does not need facts and figures and the girl needs treatment instead. That is the only thing that will help her. Her father has told us that this young girl is very good at sports and is a very bright child, with a good future ahead of her in school and college. The comments from others, however, are causing psychological harm and holding this girl back.
In 2015, the Department of Health approved the private treatment for waiting lists initiative, with an allocation of €1 million per year to target patients who had been waiting for over four years for treatment. The Department accepting that only those waiting for more than four years would have action taken is completely and desperately wrong, as the Minister of State would admit. It is my suspicion that delays being experienced across the country by children will result in two trends. The first is that the number of children waiting over four years will increase all the time, as we can see when they come to everybody's office. More children will have to be referred for private treatment as a result. The second issue is that some children are being forced to live with deterioration, so more will require more intensive surgery, adding to the number of children qualifying for the private treatment.
Children in this position need immediate treatment and not a fake promise of what will be done in years to come. Will the Minister of State ask the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, what is being done to improve access to treatment? Does he have plans to change criteria to allow more children to access private treatment in order to prevent their condition from getting worse? What can be done in this case and how can the family ensure the timely treatment of their child?
Towards the end of last year there were 1,123 patients waiting for HSE orthodontic service in my area of the south east, along with 506 in the mid west. I ask the Minister of State not to tell me this is all down to the pandemic because in 2019 the number of people waiting for four years or more for this service in the south east and mid-west had more than doubled from the previous year.