Dáil Éireann - Volume 585 - 18 May, 2004

Written Answers. - Health Board Services.

  327. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will provide a copy of the guidelines adhered to in respect of the provision of orthodontic treatment in the Western Health Board. [14399/04]

  Mr. Martin:The provision of orthodontic services is the statutory responsibility of the health boards in the first instance. The Department of Health and Children seeks to develop the treatment capacity of orthodontics, nationally and in the Western Health Board, in a sustainable way over the longer term. Given the potential level of demand for orthodontic services, the provision of such services will continue to be based on the prioritisation of cases based on treatment need, as happens under the existing guidelines. The guidelines, which were issued in 1985, are intended to enable health boards to identify in a consistent way those in greatest need and to provide timely treatment for them.

Patients in category A require immediate treatment and include those with congenital abnormalities of the jaws such as cleft lip and palate, and patients with major skeletal discrepancies between the sizes of the jaws. Patients in category B have less severe problems than category A patients and are placed on the orthodontic treatment waiting list. Patients in category C have less severe problems than those in category B. The number of cases treated depends on the level of resources available, in terms of qualified staff, in the area. This is reflected in the treatment waiting list. The provision of orthodontic services is severely restricted as a consequence of the limited availability of trained specialist clinical staff to assess and treat patients. Therefore, a category C waiting list may not be maintained by some health boards. I have arranged for a copy of the 1985 guidelines to be sent to the Deputy.