A LEADING representative of the Irish Dental Association from south west Wexford has described the impact of staff shortages on the public dental service as unacceptable for a first world country.
Iseult Bouarroudj was recently elected president of the HSE Dental Surgeon group.
Ms Bouarroudj said the current recruitment embargo is having a hugely negative impact on the availability of services and was failing our primary school children, special needs patients and teenagers.
She said: 'Where services have been reduced we have seen an increase in patients presenting with pain and infection, necessitating complex treatment and in certain circumstances acute hospital admission. Waiting lists for treatment under general anaesthesia, orthodontics and oral surgery have soared due to the lack of resources. This is a reprehensible consequence of the circumstances which now prevail in our public dental service'
Ms Bouarroudj was speaking to more than 100 dentists at the HSE Dental Surgeons Group annual seminar at the Mullingar Park Hotel.
The 350 public service dentists see more than 250,000 children every year and care for some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in our society, including the elderly and young people in the care of the HSE, and those with intellectual, physical and special needs.
Ms Bouarroudj also said that despite the continued efforts of staff to provide the best service, morale in the public dental sector had plummeted. 'We are calling on the Minister for Health to reinstate sufficient numbers of staff in all HSE areas to ensure patients of the public dental service and orthodontic service have access to equitable services, irrespective of geographic location,' she said.
Ms Bouarroudj, who studied at the Holy Faith Convent in New Ross and later at UCC, has worked for the HSE in the Longford and Westmeath areas for the last 13 years.