Dental waiting lists fall in Queensland

Whoever's responsible, everyone agrees dental waiting lists have dropped in Queensland.
Whoever’s responsible, everyone agrees dental waiting lists have dropped in Queensland.

Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg recently celebrated the dramatic reductions in dental waiting lists, but Shadow Health Minister Jo-Ann Miller says he is taking credit for decisions made by the previous Federal Labor government.

Speaking at the Stafford Dental Clinic operated by Metro North Hospital and Health Service, Mr Springborg said, “Across the State, this Government inherited a long-standing crisis in public dentistry with patients waiting ten years and more. But in the past sixteen months, public and private resources have been co-ordinated across Queensland to cut the number of long-wait public dental patients.”

Ms Miller replied that, “Given Mr Springborg’s lack of achievements as Minister apart from funding cuts and sackings, it’s not surprising that he tries to take credit for the funding decisions made by other governments.”

Mr Springborg told journalists at the Stafford Clinic that since February 2013, the number of patients waiting for a check-up at the has been cut by 37 per cent, from 5,047 to 3,163. Vouchers have been issued and patients given access to private treatment to complement increased activity at public oral health clinics such as the one at Stafford.

“Today, more than 90 per cent of current general care (ie: check-up) waiting list patients at the Stafford Dental Clinic have been waiting less than 12 months and no patients have been waiting longer than two years,” he added.

“Over the past 16 months, more than 2,400 vouchers have been issued by Stafford Dental Clinic entitling patients to attend private dental practices, including 1322 for general treatment, 1011 for emergency care and 111 for dentures.

“In contrast, on 28 February 2013, there were 3,931 patients who had been waiting over two years.”

However, Ms Miller pointed out that the fall in waiting lists was a direct result of money allocated by the Gillard/Rudd governments to clear dental waiting lists.

“It was the former Federal Labor Government that allocated $67 million to help states clear dental waiting lists. Queensland received $8 million of that in 2012-13 alone under the National partnership Agreement that Tony Abbbott has now torn up and thrown in the bin,” she said.

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