WE have regional Queensland's longest public dental waiting list, with many of the patients waiting to receive dentures.
ARM Newsdesk analysis of Queensland Health data reveals there are 12,163 patients requiring treatment in the Wide Bay, which covers the Burnett, Bundaberg and Fraser Coast areas.
The Wide Bay has the third longest wait list of the state's 16 health regions, the August 31 statistics show.
It is only out-ranked by Brisbane metro north and Brisbane metro south.
The data also shows 66% of the Wide Bay's 2693 patients requiring priority treatment - such as creation and fitting of dentures - are waiting beyond the expected timeframe for care.
However, every one of the 9328 general patients, 127 general anesthetic patients and 15 clinical assessment patients are waiting within the given timeframe.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service chief executive Adrian Pennington said the area's long waiting list was due to the Bay's aging population and low income bracket.
"As a result, there is a high demand on public health services, which is reflective across not only oral health, but all our services," Mr Pennington said.
"The only patients waiting beyond clinically-recommended waiting times are those in the priority care category which consists of specialised dental care including the provision of dentures.
"These patients have already received general care and require further treatment."
Mr Pennington said that for more than two years the region's public dental patients were clinically assessed and received routine dental care appointments within the recommended waiting times.
"This is a significant improvement on previous waiting times and was achieved through a combination of continuing dedication of our oral health clinic staff in clearing their lists within the recommended waiting time and funding that enabled many public appointments to be handled by private dentists," Mr Pennington said. - ARM NEWSDESK
Federal funding cut may bite into our dental services
OUR region's public dental services could be cut if a mooted Federal Government funding change gets the green light.
Health Minister Cameron Dick says Queensland will be short-changed about $22 million if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pushes ahead with replacing the National Partnership Agreement on Adult Public Dental Services and the Child Benefits Schedule with the proposed Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme.
Mr Turnbull needs the Senate to pass the legislation that seeks to transfer responsibility for the provision of dental services entirely to the state and territories.
"This will, for the first time, introduce a cap that would effectively deliver a $200 million a year reduction on the schemes it has been designed to replace," Mr Dick said.
"Should this scheme be implemented, once the cap is reached, the full liability for providing additional dental services would fall upon the state budget."
Mr Dick said the funding shortfall for Queensland could be $22 million and this could hurt regional and rural public oral health services quite hard.
"While dental services in our urban areas will be affected, we know these cuts will be felt hardest in our regional and rural communities," Mr Dick said.
"There is no question these cuts will put at risk the dental health of communities across Queensland, especially in regional and rural areas."
A Queensland Health spokesman said Commonwealth funding supported 20% of all public dental activity in the state last financial year.
"If Commonwealth funding for Queensland is reduced, there is a risk waiting times for public oral health services will increase for Queenslanders," the spokesman said.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said her government would invest $2.1 billion in the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme.
"The CAPDS would be the largest-ever Commonwealth investment to the states and territories to provide frontline public dental services," the spokeswoman said.
# General care refers to routine dental care including preventive care, scaling and cleaning, fillings, extractions and dentures. Treatment to be completed within two years is preferred.
# Clinical assessment includes a brief examination by a dentist, dental specialist or dental prosthetist to determine what waiting list is appropriate for the patient. Assessment within one month is desirable.
# Priority care includes specialised dental care related to medical conditions as well as orthodontics, oral surgery and oral pathology.
Source: Queensland Department of Health