15% of Rockhampton dental patients face delay
ABOUT 15% of our region's public patients requiring critical dental care are waiting longer than they should.
ARM Newsdesk analysis of Queensland Health data reveals there are 5819 people waiting for public dental care in central Queensland, which covers Rockhampton, Gladstone and Biloela.
Our area has the ninth longest wait list of the state's 16 health regions, the August 31 statistics show.
The data reveals that 17% of the region's 756 priority patients and 25% of clinical assessment patients were not seen within the required timeframe.
However, every one of the 4908 central Queensland residents on the general list and the 151 patients on the general anesthetic list was seen within the recommended period.
"Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service has worked extremely hard to reduce the waiting time for a general public dental appointment," CQHHS district wide services executive director Kieran Kinsella said.
"During the 2015-16 financial year the wait was nine months, which is less than half the benchmark of two years."
Mr Kinsella said the oral health service had "strategies in place" to ensure urgent cases were seen as soon as possible.
"(This) includes initiatives such as having lists of patients available who can be called in on short notice should we have a late cancellation or no-show," he said.
"We ramp up our clinic spaces during school holidays when parents find it more convenient to attend appointments with their children and this really improves our wait times for school children." - ARM NEWSDESK
Federal funding cut may bite into our dental services
OUR region's public dental services could be cut if a mooted Federal Government funding change gets the green light.
Health Minister Cameron Dick says Queensland will be short-changed about $22 million if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pushes ahead with replacing the National Partnership Agreement on Adult Public Dental Services and the Child Benefits Schedule with the proposed Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme.
Mr Turnbull needs the Senate to pass the legislation that seeks to transfer responsibility for the provision of dental services entirely to the state and territories.
"This will, for the first time, introduce a cap that would effectively deliver a $200 million a year reduction on the schemes it has been designed to replace," Mr Dick said.
"Should this scheme be implemented, once the cap is reached, the full liability for providing additional dental services would fall upon the state budget."
Mr Dick said the funding shortfall for Queensland could be $22 million and this could hurt regional and rural public oral health services quite hard.
"While dental services in our urban areas will be affected, we know these cuts will be felt hardest in our regional and rural communities," Mr Dick said.
"There is no question these cuts will put at risk the dental health of communities across Queensland, especially in regional and rural areas."
A Queensland Health spokesman said Commonwealth funding supported 20% of all public dental activity in the state last financial year.
"If Commonwealth funding for Queensland is reduced, there is a risk waiting times for public oral health services will increase for Queenslanders," the spokesman said.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said her government would invest $2.1 billion in the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme.
"The CAPDS would be the largest-ever Commonwealth investment to the states and territories to provide frontline public dental services," the spokeswoman said.
# General care refers to routine dental care including preventive care, scaling and cleaning, fillings, extractions and dentures. Treatment to be completed within two years is preferred.
# Clinical assessment includes a brief examination by a dentist, dental specialist or dental prosthetist to determine what waiting list is appropriate for the patient. Assessment within one month is desirable.
# Priority care includes specialised dental care related to medical conditions as well as orthodontics, oral surgery and oral pathology.
Source: Queensland Department of Health