There are only 20 dentists employed in the whole of the North West.
There are only 20 dentists employed in HSE services across the whole North West region in an area that covers Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan.
The figures, which reveal a stagnation in dental appointments over the past 2 years, were released to Fianna Fáil.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth says she was shocked to learn of the figure.
Deputy Smyth commented, “This figures are nothing short of alarming. The fact that only 20 dentists are in place across HSE services covering five counties is astounding and must be addressed by HSE bosses. It’s no wonder that waiting lists are spiralling out of control when we have so few dentists in the system.
“The North West region, which includes Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan, has also been allocated the fewest dentists of any HSE region. The Midlands/North East has 51; the South East has 44, while the South West has 96. Once again we see people in the North West at the bottom of the priority list.
“We have lost 2 dentists over the past two years, at a time when waiting lists are rising rapidly. Earlier this year Fianna Fáil revealed that there were almost 10,000 children under the age of 16 waiting more than one year for dental treatment. Unfortunately, I am all too familiar with cases in the Cavan-Monaghan area. One boy who came to my clinic was referred for treatment when he was in his first year of secondary school, he was seen by a dentist a year later and was told that he had to have a procedure in St. James’ Hospital before being fitted with braces. Five years later, he’s still waiting.
“Minister Harris and HSE bosses cannot allow this situation to continue and must set about recruiting more dentists as a matter of urgency. Waiting lists are already out of control and unless the Minister begins to get serious about health service recruitment, we will be facing into more severe problems, as a result of a lack of treatment, into the future”.