Public oral health team give patients reason to smile

THE Southern Downs public oral health team has pulled out all stops to reduce the waiting time for a routine check-up, with more than 600 patients seen in the past two months.

Southern Downs principal dental officer Dr David Griffiths said the waiting time for general (non-urgent) services was now within the clinically recommended time, down from 1066 waiting more than two years as at the end of October last year.

"The Darling Downs Hospital and Health Board has made it a priority to improve dental health services, with more positions funded to meet the demand for services in Warwick, Stanthorpe, Goondiwindi and Inglewood," Dr Griffiths said.

"The public oral health team has been working overtime and offering after-hours appointments to reduce the waiting lists. While there is more work to be done, we are very pleased with the progress so far that places Southern Downs waiting times as equal to or better than many other jurisdictions across the country."

Dr Griffiths said demand for government-funded dentistry in the region was high, with up to 70% of residents in areas such as Inglewood eligible to receive public care.

"A public-private partnership established between McIntyre Dental and the local health service around this time last year has also had great success at reducing waiting lists," he said.

"There are now only 95 people on the Inglewood waiting list, none of whom have waited more than one year, and 69 of those have only been added to the waiting list since January 2014."

Dr Griffiths said while patients who needed emergency dental care were always seen as a priority, it was important to offer routine check-ups to prevent disease and stop other dental issues from getting worse.

Darling Downs Hospital and Health Board chair Mike Horan and board members Dr Ross Hetherington and Marie Pietsch visited the Inglewood facility and welcomed the good news.



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