Belfast Telegraph

Belfast girl Connla (6) in constant pain waiting for dental surgery

350 children waiting similar treatment, BBC reports

A six-year-old girl has been left in constant pain while she waits for vital dental treatment.

Belfast girl Connla Quinn has been placed on an eight month waiting list to have severe mouth abscesses removed, the Stephen Nolan BBC Radio Ulster show reported.

The little girl has suffered the condition for a year and her mum Maria has to drain the abscesses on a daily basis.

Nolan revealed that there were 350 other children in similar circumstances in desperate need of treatment.

"I'm aching and not good at all," Connla told the BBC.

"I can't do work properly [in school] because I am that tired and I can't sleep at night.

"I'm really really sore  I would just like them to put me to sleep to get my teeth out.

"I'd be happy because my abscesses would be away and there would be nothing wrong with me anymore."

Her mum says because she is so sore the little girl can not sleep and is always tired which is having a detrimental affect on her schooling.

The mother-of-two said they were both exhausted.

"You just have to get on with it," she said.

"To leave children in pain like that for so long. I don't know how someone can justify that."

The Belfast Trust apologised for any distress caused.

A spokeswoman said: "We appreciate that this can be a very difficult time for parents of children with dental problems and would like to apologise for any distress that has been caused to Connla and her parents whilst she is waiting for treatment.

"Although we are not able to discuss the full medical history of any patient we can advise that Connla has been placed on the emergency cancellation list by the Community Dental Service following her appointment earlier today.

"The demand for dental care under General Anaesthetic (GA) for children is high in Belfast Trust.  Senior Dental Officers of the Belfast Trust run GA Assessment Clinics in Beech Hall and Carlisle Dental Clinics for patients requiring dental care under GA who are added to the appropriate waiting list for care in the Mater Hospital."

The spokeswoman added: "Currently the number of children being added to this waiting list exceeds capacity which influences the length of the waiting time.  The Belfast Trust monitors this waiting list carefully to ensure that it is administered equitably and fairly for all patients. 

"The Trust is making every effort to shorten the current waiting time for routine dental extractions under GA for children at the Mater Hospital from its current expected waiting time of 12 months.

"Dental services are reviewing theatre utilisation, patient cancellation rates, DNA rates and complexity of case mix to maximise throughput on theatre lists in the Mater Hospital.  Urgent dental cases are treated within approximately 6 – 8 weeks. The Belfast Trust are meeting with the Health and Social Care Board commissioning team in relation to demand and capacity in all dental services and the ability to meet service budget agreements and waiting time targets.

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill added:  “I wish to reiterate that tackling excessive waiting times is high on my agenda for delivering improvements in the health service. I want to assure patients and their families again that long waiting times are completely unacceptable to me and I that understand the worry and stress that people feel when they are waiting to hear when they will be seen.

“To be able to deliver sustainable improvements in waiting times, we must take action that addresses the root causes of the problem. Short-term measures to address immediate pressures will, on their own, not be enough. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix and the reality is that the capacity within the system remains stretched despite bests efforts.

“Reform is required across our services if we really want to achieve improved outcomes and I will need time and new investment to deliver the radical change necessary to deliver sustained, long-term improvement. My policy will be to adopt a balanced approach to taking further short-term action when funding is available, combined with longer-term change.

“I am considering the expert panel's report, which makes very clear the need for change. I look forward to setting out my vision for Health and Social Care over the next number of weeks.  The health service here will continue to do its utmost within the resources it has available to ensure that the clinical needs of patients are met, patient safety is maintained and patients do not wait any longer than they have to.”

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