Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called for additional dentists and funding to be provided to dental services in Co Meath to help tackle ‘astonishing’ waiting lists for children.
Deputy Tóibín was speaking after documents released to him by the HSE show that there are over 13,000 children waiting for dental services in Co Meath.
The documents also show that 537 children in Co Meath required ’emergency dental care in the last quarter of 2020, up 18% on the 2019 figure. 11,600 school children are waiting for assessment/ treatment. The vast majority of these are in 1st class or 6th class of primary school. Some of the students have since left school, and many have been waiting for more than 24 months. 1,077 children are waiting to see a hygienist.
Commenting on the figures, Peadar Tóibín said: “These figures are truly astonishing. There are a number of reasons provided for them, including that all four of Meath’s hygienists were ‘redeployed’ in March 2020, and also the redeployment of dental nurses, some of whom are expected to remain in the (Covid) testing service until ‘at least’ October.
‘An increase in population and the fact that two dentist vacancies went unfilled for over fifteen months, is also noted in the document. This delay is unacceptable – we cannot afford to wait until October, by which point the current sixth class students will have left school, and thousands more will have been added to the waiting lists”.
He continued; ‘The fact that the numbers of children requiring emergency dental care in the last quarter of 2020 increased by 18% is hardly surprising given that they hadn’t had routine appointments in schools. I can see from the figures too that 226 Meath children are waiting for pediatric dental services requiring general anesthesia in Cavan General Hospital. 70% of these have been waiting for more than six months, and the service in Cavan Hospital has been suspended since March.
‘We need to ensure that after schools are reopened, we can safely resume routine appointments for sixth class pupils before the Summer holidays. We also need increased investment, resources,

and staff to help us tackle the massive backlogs which have built up. I’m calling on the Health Minister and the HSE to ensure that this funding badly needed in Meath is included in the HSE Summer Plan”, concluded Tóibín.