THE deferral of major dental surgery in Ennis Hospital will ultimately lead to greater costs and longer waiting times for public patients, a local Dáil deputy has warned.
Deputy Michael McNamara issued this warning after the HSE informed him no general anaesthetic sessions are taking place in Ennis Hospital due to a shortage of appropriately qualified theatre nurses. The Independent Deputy is very disappointed with the lack of progress in relation to this issue, which he also highlighted last December.
Like all medical intervention, the Scariff-based Deputy stressed that early intervention is key for all major dental work that requires a general anaesthetic.
Deputy McNamara expressed concern some people requiring dental work may be in considerable pain and there is also an adverse impact on their mental wellbeing, if they have any visual dental impairment, which is particularly acute in the case of young people. He urged the HSE to fast track the recruitment process to hire the required number of theatre nurses to get this service back in operation.
Commenting on public patients requiring dental work who live in West and North Clare, he said they were now being required to travel to Nenagh for major dental work.
Mid-West Community Healthcare confirmed non dental general anaesthetic sessions have taken place at Ennis Hospital since the last official reply on this issue last December.
Two general anaesthetic lists were offered in April 2021 at Ennis Hospital, however, they had to be cancelled due to a shortage of appropriately qualified theatre nurses. The HSE stated it is actively working to recruit appropriately qualified staff. The principal dental surgeon has advised that the dental service have arranged for a number of patients from Clare to have their general anaesthetic sessions carried out in Nenagh Hospital.
When Deputy McNamara previously raised this issue last December the Mid-West HSE outlined there were 198 patients waiting for dental services under general anaesthetic at Ennis Hospital up to the end of October.
The HSE proposed at the time that the general anaesthetic dental list will commence subject to low levels at Ennis Hospital next January. Deputy Michael McNamara had asked Health Minister Stephen Donnelly the number of dental surgeries carried out; the number of surgeries that were cancelled and the current dental surgery waiting list at Ennis Hospital.
Helen Duggan from the Mid-West Primary Care Office confirmed the general anaesthetic dental clinic scheduled to take place on March 12, 2020 at Ennis Hospital was cancelled and the number of patients scheduled for dental extraction using an anaesthetic at that clinic was ten.
As the general anaesthetic list for dental services was paused due to Covid-19 from March 12 and has not yet recommenced, no further clinic was arranged.
Ms Duggan outlined the community dental service had access to one general anaesthetic session each alternate week and that about ten patients would receive treatment at each of these clinics.
“Essentially, these dental general anaesthetic lists were not cancelled, they weren’t scheduled. However, strictly speaking in a non Covid-19 environment, there would have been about 16 dental general anaesthetic theatre lists scheduled between March 12 and October 31 and the lists would have provided treatment to about 160 people,” she stated.
By Dan Danaher