It was revealed yesterday that after a 10-year battle, a second orthodontic consultant is to be appointed to the HSE South area — which with 4,590 children on its waiting list has one of the worst records on orthodontic care in the country.
Dr Marie Cook will take up the position next month and will have responsibility for children in Kerry and Cork North Lee where no assessments have taken place since last March. Orthodontics is the discipline of dentistry that deals with repairing crowded or crooked teeth.
Labour deputy for Cork North Central, Kathleen Lynch, said while she welcomed the investment, older children must be given priority as once they turn 17, they are no longer eligible for free orthodontic care.
“I am delighted with the appointment... However, we must immediately look at the children who are nearing the end of their eligibility as they won’t be entitled to public care unless the treatment begins before their 17th birthday. They need to be taken off the waiting lists as a priority,” she said.
Pat Healy, HSE assistant national director of primary, community and continuing care, said the appointment would make a huge difference to children who have waited years for treatment. However, according to Ms Lynch, large numbers of parents forked out up to €7,000 to have the work done privately as they had given up hope of ever being seen through the public services.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South Central, Michael McGrath, said the appointment “marked a significant milestone in the delivery of orthodontic services in the region”.