Oral health crisis must be addressed

Tasmanian Labor

Tasmania’s oral health crisis must be addressed urgently with dedicated long term not one-off increases to funding and a comprehensive recruitment and workforce development plan.

Shadow Health Minister Anita Dow said it was clear that Tasmanians experiencing poor oral health were continuing to suffer under the current oral health system and associated waiting lists.

“The dire situation in Tasmania when it comes to accessing public oral health services is simply shocking,” Ms Dow said.

“Currently there are almost 18,000 Tasmanians on the public oral health waiting list and today we have learned the full cost of what these delays to dental treatment mean for the overall health and wellbeing of our communities.

“We have heard of Tasmanians who are choosing to completely remove their teeth, rather than enduring the cost of addressing the problem or waiting on the ballooning public oral health waitlist.”

Ms Dow said the government’s increase in funding was welcome but much more needs to be done to promote the importance of good oral health and to ensure Tasmanian’s had improved access to dental services no matter where they live.

“It is clear the oral health system is in crisis, with patients having to wait an average of 2 years to get an appointment.

“Poor oral health leads to poorer health outcomes for Tasmanians and puts pressure on the whole health system. Dental problems are the most common reason for preventable hospital admissions.

“It is unacceptable that young Tasmanians from Hobart’s Northern Suburbs feel like they have to choose between joining the oral health waitlist or removing their teeth.

“Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff and his Government must urgently address this problem, before it gets worse.”

Anita Dow MP

Shadow Health Minister

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