Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood, SDLP, has said that local dentistry patients need a long term solution to the lengthy waiting lists they face.
Mr. Eastwood said: “Health Minister Mr Poots has indicated that where demand exceeds capacity, the Health and Social Care board will provide additional funding to ensure patients are treated via the private sector. This is unsustainable and is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
“The Western Trust should be targeting more resources at Altnagelvin to bring waiting times in line with the other Trusts.”
Asked to comment on the figures the Western Trust issued the following statement: ““It is important to put these figures into context as it is not comparing like with like. All the other Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland are citing figures which include only dental appointment waiting times. The Western Trust’s figure includes both dental appointment and oral Maxilofacial appointment times.
“The Western Trust is unlike other Trusts as its Dental Department at Altnagelvin Hospital is a combined Oral Maxilofacial Department and as such specialist patients are also referred to Altnagelvin such as for the management of cancer or orthognathic cases. The 258 includes such cases.”
The spokesperson continued: “The figures cited are also higher for the Western Trust as it provides a service to patients outside of the Western Trust area in particular the Coleraine and Ballymoney areas; therefore, this figure includes patients from the Northern Trust. Most recently at the end of September the Western Trust received a transfer of 220 patients from the Northern Trust waiting list.
“The Trust is also experiencing the impact of reduced availability of Consultant time which we are working to address.
“The Western Trust would like to reassure the public that all patients are triaged appropriately by the consultants and understandably those most
urgent in particular those with cancer or orthognathic conditions take precedent for the appointments.”