Outrage over four-year dental wait

ROSE City residents wanting to get that tooth filled better book now, as it was revealed yesterday the current waiting time for general oral care at the Warwick Hospital Dental Clinic is four years.

Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg sent a letter to the Minister for Health in October 2009 requesting an explanation on behalf of a local resident placed on the waiting list on December 1, 2006.

It took more than four months for Mr Springborg to receive a response from the Minister’s Principal Adviser.

He said “it must be considered waiting times for general care can fluctuate considerably as a result of unexpected staff loss and unanticipated increases in emergency care requirements for the clinic”.

Mr Springborg has branded the situation “intolerable and totally unacceptable” after the adviser said if eligible patients required urgent care, they were able to access the Warwick Dental Clinic between 8am and 8.30am each morning to be categorised according to clinical urgency.

“What the Bligh Labor Government needs to do is start addressing the situation with some positive and actual action instead of continually running the health system and the state of Queensland on stand-by emergency care,” Mr Springborg said.

‘The time has come for Minister Lucas to take control of his portfolio and dedicate some quality time to proper planning, forethought, the recruitment of staff and the allocation of adequate funding so that constituents are not placed on ‘never never’ waiting lists with no indication as to when their situation may be addressed or attended to.”

Local dentist of 19 years, Southern Downs Dental principal Mike Geisel told the Daily News he believed the public health system “will never really be able to cope with the demand”.

“The public health system needs to learn to lean on the private system, which takes advantage of the Federal Government-funded schemes available,” Dr Geisel said.

These include the Department of Veterans Affairs Scheme, Medicare Teen Dental Plan and an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) system, where patients whose teeth condition is affecting their general health are referred to a dentist by their GP.

“Under the EPC the government pays the majority of the costs – something like two-thirds – and we’re currently treating a lot of patients under that scheme,” Dr Geisel said.

“The scheme is therefore helping take the pressure off the public health system so in a way the private system is helping the public, but there’s still a way to go yet.”

Dr Geisel said in terms of the public health system, he believed “we were better than a lot of other places” in regards to waiting lists.

“But recruiting dentists to work in the country is hard and for the life of me I don’t know why – I’ve been here 19 years and I love it,” he said.



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