HSE needs contingency plan for dental screening for Tipperary children
The bar was already set low for dental screening in primary schools and there has been a huge decrease in the number of children receiving dental treatment in 2020.
Tipperary Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne has called on the HSE to develop contingency plans for dental screening for primary school children after a response to a parliamentary question that showed the decrease in this screening for the health areas in County Tipperary was above the national average.
In a statement to this weeks Tipperary Star, Deputy Browne said:
“Prior to Covid we have seen reports from The Irish Dental Association (IDA) that stated an increasing number of children are only being offered examination and dental care for the first time at sixth class – instead of at first/second, fourth and sixth classes
“This situation has been exacerbated by the impact of Covid. The bar was already set low for dental screening in primary schools and a response to a parliamentary question has shown a huge decrease in the number of children receiving dental treatment in 2020
“In primary schools nationally, there was a 63% decrease in dental screening in 2020. In Co Tipperary the average decrease was 70%.
“That decrease was way above the national average for the Local Health Office area which covers North Tipperary/East Limerick, where there was an 81% reduction - the second largest fall in the country.
“In 2019, 4,940 dental screenings were carried out in in this part of CHO 3. But this dropped to 941 in 2020.
“The record in the Local Health Office area which covers South Tipperary showed a lesser decrease of 60.2%, it was still unacceptable, considering screening numbers fell from 6,239 in 2019 to 2,485 in 2020.
“I am getting back in contact with the HSE for further details on the considerable discrepancy between these two health areas.
“There are strong links between good oral health and good physical health, and it is vital that the HSE develop a contingency plan so children can receive this vital service.
“The HSE have said that dental staff have been re-deployed to testing and tracing as part of its response to the pandemic. Surely the HSE could have hired applicants from the “Be on Call for Ireland” campaign as contact tracers.
“There were 73,000 applicants and less than 1% of these applicants were hired in any capacity,” he said.