Dental patients finally given a reason to smile

IPSWICH'S public dental waiting lists have been halved in three months, taking years off the time it takes for some patients to sit in the dentist's chair.

At the end of February, 5500 patients had waited six years to see a dentist on the public system, but that number has been reduced to 2700 patients waiting between two and three years.

The dramatic drop was the result of a combination of hiring more staff and a partnership with private dental clinics to take emergency patients.

The city's public system received just under $1 million in funding under the Gillard Government's National Partnership Agreement, allowing 12 more staff to be hired locally.

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service's director of oral health services, Dr Peter Osborne, said his team of 114 dental staff had worked hard to reduce the waiting lists.

"This funding allowed us to recruit additional dental teams and support our emergency call centre model, which has made significant improvements in the management of acute services by allowing us to better target the delivery of services for these emergency cases," he said.

"Essentially we have halved the waiting list and the expected waiting times for treatment within three months of receiving the funding and commencing the targeted approach of scheduling patients to the best facility for the treatment they required."

Blair MP Shayne Neumann said the funding addressed the decline in oral health among Australians.

He said the Newman Government failed to give credit where it is due.

"They are under-funding the hospital system. We are not just taking up the slack but providing additional money to take people off waiting lists," he said.

Dr Osborne said joining forces with private practice partners had demonstrated that a real difference could be made when the problem was tackled head on.

"Private practice truly embraced what we were doing and joined in as we searched for the best solutions for our community," he said.

"We are hoping to continue to develop a model of care that is sustainable to maintain our recent achievements and manage our community's needs to ensure they get the treatment they need, when they need it."

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