“More than 200 children” awaiting emergency dental care

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More than 200 children have been left waiting for emergency dental treatment due to a lack of anaesthesiologists, the chairman of the Stormont health committee said.

Colm Gildernew said some of the youngsters were “in quite bad pain” as he asked the health minister what action was being taken.

Mr Gildernew said: “I am certainly aware of serious and serious problems within the Southern Trust, and I think it goes much deeper.

Colm Gildernew (Rebecca Black/PA)

(PA Archive)

“I understand there could be over 200 children, possibly more at this stage, awaiting emergency dental treatment.

“The blocking of the system seems to be the lack of anesthesiologists.

“A lot of these kids are suffering quite badly and I have some of them in direct contact with me and I haven’t moved anything forward.”

The Sinn Fein MP added: “Is there a way to see this? I know that dentistry has had particular problems.

“Given the very poor situation of oral health inequality that we already had, I fear this will add to that in a way that will add significant suffering to young people in particular.

“Is there anything we could consider with the other jurisdictions to free up some of these surgeries?

“I think most of them are pretty common, but they can’t be done without anesthesia.”

Robin Swann (Liam McBurney/PA)

(PA wire)

Health Minister Robin Swann replied: ‘We have set up mega clinics which we have been able to run, we have run dental mega clinics, we have also run pediatric dental mega clinics through some trusts at the regional level as well.”

He suggested that the new chief dentist appear before the committee to inform the members about the services.

Paul Cavanagh, director of planning and commissioning at HSCB, said officials were working to resolve the processing delays.

He added: “It’s a very difficult question. We are investigating whether there are other sites in Northern Ireland that could accommodate children awaiting dental treatment under general anaesthetic.

“There is active work to resolve this at this time.”

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