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‘More than 200 children’ waiting for emergency dental treatment

MLA Colm Gildernew said some of the youngsters are ‘suffering quite badly’.

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Colm Gildernew said that more than 200 children were waiting for emergency dental treatment (Rui Vieira/PA)

Colm Gildernew said that more than 200 children were waiting for emergency dental treatment (Rui Vieira/PA)

Colm Gildernew said that more than 200 children were waiting for emergency dental treatment (Rui Vieira/PA)

More than 200 children have been left waiting for emergency dental treatment because of a lack of anaesthetists, the chairman of Stormont’s health committee said.

Colm Gildernew said some of the youngsters are “suffering quite badly” as he asked the health minister what steps are being taken.

Mr Gildernew said: “I am aware of serious, serious issues certainly within the Southern Trust, and I believe this goes much much wider.

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Colm Gildernew (Rebecca Black/PA)

Colm Gildernew (Rebecca Black/PA)

PA

Colm Gildernew (Rebecca Black/PA)

“It is my understanding that there could be over 200 children, maybe more at this point, waiting for emergency dental treatment.

“The logjam in the system seems to be a lack of anaesthetists.

“Many of these children are suffering quite badly and I have some of them in direct contact with me and I have failed to get anything progressed on it.”

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The Sinn Fein MLA added: “Is there a way to look at that? I know dentistry has had particular problems.

“Given the very poor oral health inequality situation that we had already, I am concerned that this is adding to that in a way that is going to add significant suffering to young people in particular.

“Is there something we could look at with the other jurisdictions to free up some of those surgeries?

“I think most of them are fairly routine but they can’t be done without the anaesthetic.”

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Robin Swann (Liam McBurney/PA)

Robin Swann (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Robin Swann (Liam McBurney/PA)

Health Minister Robin Swann responded: “We have set up some mega-clinics that we have been able to run, we have run some dental mega-clinics, we also ran some paediatric dental mega-clinics through some of the trusts at a regional level as well.”

He suggested the new chief dental officer should appear before the committee to brief members on services.

Paul Cavanagh, director of planning and commissioning with the HSCB, said officials were working on resolving the delays to treatment.

He added: “It is a very challenging issue. We are looking to see whether there are other sites in Northern Ireland which could take the children waiting for dentistry under general anaesthetic.

“There is an active piece of work to resolve that at the moment.”


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