Parents are forking out thousands to cover the costs of private dental care for their children due to “excessive” waiting times of up to five years to access States services, Express has discovered.
According to the Health and Social Services Department (HSSD), it takes 18 months on average for a new patient to be seen by an Orthodontic consultant following a referral by their dentist. Once treatment has been recommended, the patient is then advised of a further three-year wait before it can begin.
But some parents have reported having “totally lost the will to live” with the [States] Orthodontic department following “frustrating” waits of up to half a decade for treatment including braces.
One claimed to have spent up to £4,000 to have the teeth-straightening device privately fitted after having waited over three years for an initial appointment and being told that installation would be another two years away.
Another hit out at what she described as an “inconsistent” service “crumbling under pressure” after her son was said to have been refused braces despite his dental discomfort, while other children were apparently permitted them for their aesthetic benefits alone.
Pictured: Some parents said they had expected a five-year wait for braces.
Some parents reported having finally given up on the States service as their children reached Sixth Form age, despite having waited for treatment since age 11. Others claimed they had registered their children at birth, but failed to secure an appointment until they were of school age.
“People are having problems actually registering children from a young age and having to wait - problem being the situation gets worse and will cost the States more in the long run as more dentist work will be required later on,” one mother told Express.
The news comes following the results of a survey by dental health promotion charity Super Smiles, which found that half of children age five have never visited the dentist, while around 3,000 children have never been registered with one.
“Isn’t dentistry all about prevention and education these days? I fear it will be too late for many youngsters who are waiting literally years for an appointment. A matter for the States, rather than the department itself, who I am sure do an excellent job in these times of ‘cost cutting’,” another mother commented.
Other parents also heaped praise on the "lovely" staff, who were said to be working hard to clear the backlog despite adverse conditions.
An HSSD spokesperson told Express that they recognised an issue around waiting times, but were taking active steps to remedy the issue - including the recruitment of new staff.
“HSSD acknowledges that these waiting times are excessive, however we have, and will continue to, invest in the orthodontic service,” they commented.
Pictured: The States Health Department has committed to recruiting a second consultant orthodontic surgeon and a number of dental nurses to help ease the burden on the service.
“In 2015, HSSD supported the training of an orthodontic therapist. Since qualifying, the orthodontic therapist has undertaken approximately nine clinics per week. In addition to this, we are seeking a second consultant orthodontic surgeon. This post is currently advertised within the UK and once appointed, this new post will have a significant impact on the orthodontic waiting list.”
The measures, which also include the recruitment of dental nurses, are expected to generate up to 50 extra orthodontic appointments per week. Nonetheless, HSSD admitted that improvements may not be noticed immediately.
“HSSD recognises that it will take some time to reducing the orthodontic waiting lists. We remain committed to reviewing all waiting times and minimise delays wherever possible, within the resources at our disposal.”