TEETHING PROBLEMS: The longest waiting time to see a public dentist in Ipswich is 11 months.
TEETHING PROBLEMS: The longest waiting time to see a public dentist in Ipswich is 11 months. Thinkstock

The drill is, be patient if you need to see a dentist

MORE than 3000 Ipswich residents have to wait up to 11 months to see a public dentist.

Figures from the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service show 3289 people were on the waiting list as at September 30.

The health service's acting chief, Sharon Kelly, said about 2000 patients were treated and removed from the list in the 2013-14 financial year.

At the start of last financial year, she said 19 people had been waiting more than two years to see a dentist.

Now, no one has been waiting that long.

The longest waiting time for a general dental appointment now is 11 months.

Ms Kelly said Federal Government funding helped reduce waiting times for dental patients.

"A mixed model of care was introduced which entails outsourcing dental treatment to the private sector as well as increasing staff numbers on a temporary basis as required," she said.

"West Moreton will continue to adopt this approach in order to reduce oral health waiting times."

About 140 people are waiting for dentures in the West Moreton area.

The longest waiting time for dentures has been about a year.

Ms Kelly said in the 2013-14 financial year, their service performed about 34,000 dental treatments and 25,000 school-based treatments for children.

"Oral health services are provided at 19 fixed clinics and 14 mobile dental clinics across the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service," she said.

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service's dental waiting times make up about 5% of the state's total number of people waiting to see a dentist.

 

WAITING TIMES

  • 3289 people waiting to see a dentist.
  • The longest waiting time is 11 months.
  • No one has been waiting for more than two years.

 

How did we let dental waiting times get so bad?

In some areas, waiting times reached up to 12 years in 2013.

Queensland's Australian Dental Association state president, Ron Blake, said a lack of manpower did not cause the problem, rather funding and a demand increase.

He said public health bodies sent patients to private dentists for appointments to reduce banked-up waiting lists. Funding from the Federal Government helped see this through.

Dr Blake said waiting times were still a concern in rural areas where dentists were limited.

"People have to travel to get to the dentist… So keeping those services running when the demand is intermittent is an issue," he said.



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