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Hospital Dental Care For Children Inadequate

18 November 2004

Hospital Dental Care For Children Inadequate

The plight of children who have to be anaesthetised in order for dental work to be done should be of extreme concern to the Minister of Health says New Zealand First’s health spokesperson, Barbara Stewart.

“Carrying out examinations and dental procedures on many special needs children and small children with multiple fillings or extractions is only possible under general anaesthetic. Dentists are often unwilling or unable to treat such patients and they are obliged to go to hospitals.

“Every district health board must have children with these requirements and if the situation in Wellington is typical urgent action is long overdue,” said Mrs Stewart.

“Wellington Hospital sets aside two afternoons a month for these cases and treats two per session. There is currently a waiting list of one year for dental work on children needing general anaesthetic. If a child has been waiting for 6 months a self-assessment questionnaire is sent to the parent in order to reassess the child’s priority. In the case of special needs children with limited ability to communicate it is left to their caregiver to assess their level of discomfort.

“This is totally unsatisfactory for the children whose health suffers from the effects of rotting teeth and the ensuing pain and for their parents/caregivers who have to deal with the consequences for a year or sometimes longer.

“As a former dental nurse the Minister should be aware of the consequences of having to wait for dental treatment and she must remedy the situation,” said Mrs Stewart.

ENDS

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