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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 1 Hansard (12 February) . .

Page.. 284..


Health—dental

MS PORTER: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, can you please inform the Assembly of how dental health in the ACT is progressing?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for her question. Recent figures demonstrate the achievement of an impressive reduction, I have to report, in waiting times for dental care in the ACT. From 2008 waiting times to access services have been on the increase, with the waiting time to access treatment being recorded at 11 months. This increase was due to both an increase in demand and some workforce shortages. However, I am pleased to advise members that, as of 30 June last year, the dental health program had removed 4,107 clients from the restorative waiting list during 2013-14. This is an increase of over 1,000 clients when compared to the previous financial year.

I can also advise members that year-to-date figures as at December 2014 reflect that 1,969 patients were removed from the waiting list in the last six months of that period. The dental health program means the waiting time, year to date, as at 30 June last year, was 4.82 months, which was facilitated by an increase in the number of recruited dentists internally and an additional number of private dentists participating in the restorative referral scheme.

Since January 2013 the dental health program has employed four additional dentists, two oral health therapists, eight dental assistants, one prosthesist and two administration staff. These have all increased the capacity for clients to be seen and treated.

Each month, I am pleased to advise, the team at the dental health program review the waiting list and financial statements in order to assess how many clients from the list can be treated within the coming four-week period. All clients who will not achieve access to treatment within that time frame are then targeted for referral to the private sector. We have been able to increase the number of individual agreements we have with private dentists. This is making a big difference; we have seen 931 clients referred to private dentists who have subsequently been removed from the waiting list for general dentistry.

These are great outcomes. Oral health is very important. Access to quality dental care is critical, particularly if you are on a low income. These reforms are greatly improving access to public dental services here in the ACT.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, can you please explain to the Assembly what progress has been made in terms of the 2012 ACT Labor election promise to commission and operate a mobile dental clinic?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for her question. As part of our election commitments Labor did commit to commission and operate a mobile dental clinic to


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