Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte says children in Galway and the Western region are being forced to wait unacceptable lengths of time for orthodontic appointments.  The current assessment waiting list for teens is 8 months, but because the orthodontic x-ray machine is out of order the HSE is warning of “lengthy delays”.

Deputy Rabbitte commented, “There have been ongoing issues with orthodontic waiting lists at Merlin Park Hospital, with some teenagers faced to wait more than 2 years for treatment.  The fact that the x-ray machine is broken and the hospital has effectively put all assessments on hold will seriously exacerbate the situation.

“I have written to hospital management, and while they acknowledge that the “situation needs to be resolved as soon as possible”, they failed to indicate when they would be in a position to buy a new scanner.  Teenagers are being forced to wait months, and in some cases years, for assessment and treatment.  Some children risk missing out on important orthodontic intervention because of these excessive waiting times – if they are 16 when they are referred, they may be 18 by the time they are seen and could be no longer eligible for treatment.

“There has been a series of issues impacting on paediatric orthodontic care across the Galway University Hospitals.  Staff shortages earlier in the year led to the cancellation of procedures and delays in waiting times.  Now we have a broken x-ray machine which is exacerbating the problem.  Minister Simon Harris is good at talking the talk but has failed to take any real action to address this issue since taking over as Health Minister.  He needs to examine the situation at Merlin Park and ensure that teenagers are not left waiting years for important orthodontic treatment.

“The problem appears to be getting worse instead of better and it is time that the Minister implemented some measures to turn this situation around and ensure that children in Galway and across the West get the treatment they deserve”.

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